SATURDAY, July 30, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Bugs are a part of summer whether you like it or not.
While insect bites are often little more than an irritating inconvenience, some can cause a medical emergency, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which offered tips for telling one thing another.
“While most insect bites or stings are minor and can be treated at home, some reactions can quickly become severe or life-threatening,” says Dr. Gillian Schmitz, President of ACEP. “It’s important to pay attention to certain symptoms or allergic reactions and seek emergency care if necessary.”
Most people can treat wasp, bee or hornet stings at home with an ice pack and an over-the-counter remedy for itching, pain or swelling, according to ACEP.
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That’s true if the swelling is limited to the area where the sting occurred or if there are no signs of a severe allergic reaction. Go to the nearest emergency department if you have trouble breathing, dizziness, or swelling of your face, mouth, lip, or tongue.
Call 911 immediately if anyone appears to be experiencing anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis can be caused by insect stings, certain foods, drugs, or latex.
Anyone who knows they are at risk, or their parent or guardian, should carry injectable epinephrine with them at all times. This should be administered during anaphylaxis if available.
“Preventive measures, such as applying bug spray or wearing appropriate clothing for outdoor activities, can help prevent nasty bites,” Schmitz said. “But knowing when to go to the emergency department can save a life.”
Another worrisome interaction with bugs is that a tick burrows into your skin. If this happens, it is important to remove the tick quickly.
Do not pour chemicals on it or try to remove it by force. Instead, use clean tweezers to grab the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible, then pull up in a steady motion. Avoid twisting or pulling the tick. An infection can develop if parts of it break off and remain in the skin.
See a doctor if the tick cannot be removed safely.
Other signs that medical attention is needed include a “bullseye rash” or spots on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet that may indicate a tick-borne illness such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Mosquito bites are often a nuisance that is more itchy than painful. You can treat bites with over-the-counter sprays, creams, or medications to reduce swelling.
However, if you develop persistent flu-like symptoms, including fever, a headache or body aches, or upset stomach, this could be a sign of a mosquito-borne illness. These include Zika and West Nile virus.
Mosquito-borne illness can progress to neck stiffness, confusion, vision changes, or other functions related to the brain, nervous system, or spinal cord, so you should seek emergency care for flu-like symptoms.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about preventing and removing tick bites.
SOURCE: American College of Emergency Physicians, press release, July 20, 2022