Tis the season for bugs
Enjoying the outdoors is what summer is all about. Whether it’s a picnic at a park, fishing in a pond, swimming at the lake or sitting outside in the cool morning hours with a cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, though, we’re not the only ones enjoying the warmth. Insects are part of the summer scenario in North Texas and other cities across the U.S.
And while most insect bites are usually mildly annoying, there are a few things you should keep in mind while camping, swimming, walking your dog, gardening, or even simply soaking in the sun.
Reactions: Normal vs. abnormal
Bug bites can itch, cause swelling, and sometimes hurt, depending on what insect is involved. Redness, pain, mild to moderate swelling, warmth, itching and pimple like spots can be expected for most insect bites. Significant swelling – such as an arm swelling for a bite on a hand – should prompt an immediate visit to a physician’s clinic, like Rapid Med Urgent Care Center.
However, anaphylactic reactions or severe allergic reactions, require immediate emergency medical attention. These symptoms can range from trouble breathing to wheezing or trouble swallowing, rapid pulse, dizziness or swelling of the face, throat or mouth tissue. Emergency treatment should be sought as soon as possible. Call 9-1-1 if you or someone you are with is experiencing anaphylactic shock.
An estimated 2 million people have allergies to the venom of stinging insects. If you receive treatment for a severe reaction to an insect sting, it is important to notify your physician and keep a record of the allergy with you in case of an emergency away from family or close friends who might be aware of your susceptibility.
It is also important to identify the type of insect that caused your reaction and carry appropriate medications with you when you are away from home.
Insects with extra baggage
If you believe an insect bite is from a spider, identifying the type of spider will be important for proper medical treatment. Some spiders – from the brown recluse to the black widow – can cause severe symptoms. Try to snap a photo of the spider with your camera phone if possible and show it to the attending medical personnel.
With the West Nile Virus, Chikungunya and Zika viruses now prevalent in Texas and many other neighboring southern states and countries, mosquito bites carry a higher risk of transmitting diseases that can cause symptoms long after the bite has healed. Mosquito season is well underway in North Texas so it is a good idea to use deterrents such as bug spray or other repellents when enjoying the outdoors. Officials suggest wearing a repellent when outdoors – morning, during the day or at night. Different breeds of mosquitoes now in the region are active at various times. Also, empty any containers with standing water or put tablets (available through your community or at garden centers) into ponds or bird baths to avoid creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes around your home.
Another growing threat in North Texas and across the region are ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict this could be the worst season for tick-borne illnesses due to a rise in the number of ticks. Mild winters allow ticks to continue breeding throughout the year instead of becoming dormant during the cold season, according to a recent NBC 5 news report.
Though the area is largely urban, ticks can be prevalent along walking trails, wooded parks and tall grassy areas around ponds or lakes. If you and your family are spending an afternoon outdoors, it is good to plan taking showers upon your return to check for ticks.
If you find a tick on your body, simply remove it using tweezers or a tissue. Then, ask for a blood test at your next doctor’s appointment to make sure you or your loved ones have not been exposed to Lyme or other diseases ticks are known to carry. The risk of contracting the disease is minimal but it will give you peace of mind to know for certain that you have not been exposed.
After an insect bite
When the bite heals, stay alert for any unexplained symptoms such as fatigue, night sweats, or body aches. Schedule an appointment with a physician if you experience any of these symptoms following an insect bite.
It is important not to dismiss insect bites as just another part of being outdoors. These tips and links will help keep you informed and aware so that when insect bites occur, you can take the appropriate action to ensure the best health for you and your family.
With locations in Double Oak and The Colony, Rapid Med Urgent Care Center can be your first stop in receiving treatment. Just visit us online, call for a convenient appointment or schedule a house call. For information about other health matters, visit the Rapid Med blog.