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Asthma, Allergies, and Insects

By Chris Williams on March 18, 2015.
asthma inhaler on table

The link between insect allergens and increased incidences of asthma is well established.

Wintertime is certainly the time for colds, flu, and I guess allergies too. Lately, I’ve been experiencing some minor irritation in my airways, and I’m not quite sure why. I’ve never been a regular asthma sufferer, but on occasion, have experienced exercise-induced asthma from skiing hard out in the cold or sometimes have had brief episodes when cleaning something old and dusty (makes note to order dust masks!).  That constant ‘frog in the throat’ feeling got me thinking once again about insect allergens.  The link between heavy cockroach infestations in dwellings and higher incidence of asthma is well established.

There are also now similar concerns about hypersensitivity/ asthma associated with heavy presence of overwintering Asian lady beetle in dwellings.

These two asthma-causing culprits got me wondering about whether or not heavy bedbug infestations in dwellings might lead to similar issues.  In searching the literature, I found an article from an NIH published study in 2012 looking at subject’s response to cockroach, dust mite, and bed bug extracts.  For now, even though a high percentage of subjects showed some cross reactivity to bedbugs, the researchers were not yet able to demonstrate an association between exposure and respiratory allergic symptoms (wheezing, coughing, etc.).

I expect that further research will no doubt come up with stronger links to respiratory ailments in persons living in dwellings with a heavy bedbug presence.

Photo credit: NIAID / Foter / CC BY

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