bed bugs

Bed bugs – a threat to our health

As children, we often heard our parents and family members sing out “Goodnight, Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

We thought this was funny – as if such bugs even existed!

But we know that bed bugs are real and are a big problem for those who have bed bug infestations.

Bed bugs are tiny oval-shaped critters that live on our blood. At night they scurry all over us while we sleep as they look for their next meal – our blood. We usually blame mosquito bites or allergies for the resulting tiny red welts on our skin the next day.

Bed bugs are a growing problem and are a highly despised pest which can invade homes, hotels, gyms, luggage, shoes and even our clothes.

Histamine levels did not decline significantly after three months of treatment indicating the persistent power of histamine despite the extreme heat.

Now new research from North Carolina State University found that bed bugs are more than just a despised pest. They can be medically harmful to our health.

Researchers from NC State and N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services conducted a study in Raleigh to compare histamine levels in homes with and without bed bug infestation. The researchers evaluated how time and treatment can affect histamine levels.

Using an apartment complex in Raleigh as a study site, the researchers searched for apartments impacted by bed bugs and those which were not.The collected household dust from both apartment types.

They found that the histamine levels in apartments with bed bugs were 20 times more than in apartments without any bed bugs as well as control apartments located some miles away that had no history of bed bugs – even if the bed bugs had been eliminated from those homes.

The researchers also tracked the levels of histamine after having professional heat treatment in some of the infested apartments.

Histamine levels did not decline significantly after three months of treatment indicating the persistent power of histamine despite the extreme heat.

In humans, histamines are released as part of an immune response. The cause an inflammation and allow other immune system chemicals to fight a pathogen or do cellular repair work.
However, histamines can have negative effects on humans – resulting in rashes if it comes in contact with skin, or breathing problems when inhaled such as allergic reactions to certain foods, pollen, mould or environmental conditions.

Bed bugs naturally give off high levels of histamine in the faeces and they use histamine as a marker for a good place to live together in groups which is usually in the bedrooms as humans spend a good part of their day on the beds.

At the moment, researchers suggest that a combination of heat treatment and rigorous cleaning may help reduce the dust and histamine levels in households but they have plans to test the efficacy of this further in the future along with investigating the effects of exposure to low dose histamine levels.

Bed bugs are not just pests but are a medical threat to our health. It’s best to be vigilant of any bed bugs in your home and get a professional to help you clear them out. And really seriously, don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Source: Plos One

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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