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  • Michael Radovic

Bed Bugs and Histamine Levels

While it is never a good thing to have bed bugs, a recent study from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment shows that the effects of having bed bugs can be even worse than we thought.

Histamines are naturally occurring in our bodies, and they are there to help our bodies get rid of something that is bothering us. They will do whatever it takes to do the job. They can make you sneeze, tear up, or itch. While all these things are unpleasant, they have a function. A sneeze, for instance, is meant to clear bacteria and viruses from your nasal passages.

If your body comes into contact with something you are allergic to, such as pollen, your body will react, and sometimes overreact, to those allergens, which is what brings out all of those allergy symptoms that can make you so miserable. With a pollen allergy, when the pollen is detected, histamines prompt excess mucus to be released in your nasal passages, which in turn will cause your nose to run and cause you to sneeze. The mucus also gets into your throat and causes you to cough. All this is why most allergy medicines are called antihistamines.

So what does this have to do with bed bugs? According to the study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, the University of Kentucky study showed “study that showed bed bugs can produce large amounts of histamine, with a single bed bug producing greater than 50 micrograms of histamine in just one week.”*

Right now, the effects of direct contact with the high level of histamine are unknown, but considering the reaction most people have to histamines, the potential health hazard can be significant, especially in communities or homes where people do not have the means to deal with a bed bug infestation properly and professionally.

Bed bugs can be found in almost every region of the world at any time of the year. They can be a nuisance as their bites can cause irritations, and, left untreated, bed bugs multiply at a significant rate. Bed bugs, however, are not known to carry pathogens or cause serious illness. The findings that bed bugs can release such high levels of histamines mean that bed bugs can potentially be a serious issue for people with sensitivities to histamines and even a more serious issue for people with respiratory problems.

More study is planned in this area, with funding already in place for additional studies to be performed through 2024.


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