When residents first realize that they are faced with a bed bug infestation, or any pest infestation for that matter, the first question that comes to mind is ‘are bed bugs detrimental to my health?’
With the sudden increase in bed bug infestations across North America in the last two decades, this question is being asked more and more so we decided put together the facts to explain the dangers that are present when faced with a bed bug infestation. We will explore the not only the dangers that they can impose on your physical health but also on your psychological well being, which in fact is the much more worrisome risk factor. For this reason we can not stress how important it is to call a professional bed bug control company like Bed Bug Exterminator Pro at first site of a bed bug infestation so that the necessary steps are taken before the problem gets out of control.
How Can Bed Bugs Affect My Physical Health?
Many people are concerned with the physical dangers imposed by bed bugs since they feed solely on the blood of their human hosts. One of the main concerns with blood sucking insects is of course the spread of disease but luckily when it comes to bed bugs there is no scientific evidence that suggests they can spread disease to their hosts.
Bed bugs, in fact, cause very little physical harm to their victims. Each individual reacts differently to bed bug bites so depending on your specific reaction will determine how negatively they may affect you physically. The physical harm imposed by bed bugs can vary from having no reaction at all to the bites in the best case, to having an allergic reaction to the bites in extreme, but also rare, cases. The average person does, however, notice small red bite marks on the areas of their skin that were bitten by bed bugs, which in some cases can lead to excessive scratching that can cause a minor secondary skin infection.
How Can Bed Bugs Affect My Psychological Well Being?
The real danger of dealing with a bed bug infestation, which was only recently discovered, is the psychological damage that they can impose on their hosts. One of the most common symptoms that are faced by bed bug exposed tenants is sleep deprivation which can then lead to further issues such as anxiety and, in extreme cases, depression.
This is demonstrated in a National Post article where Toronto resident Sharon Younger explains how severely a bed bug infestation affected one of her neighbors. At first she believed that the neighbor had psychiatric troubles as he was seen “shuffling zombie-like through the hallways at night.” Once Ms. Younger realized that the gentleman had a bed bug infestation, she helped get his unit treated and saw a dramatic change in his behavior within a few months, realizing that he wasn’t psychologically ill at all, he was just reacting negatively to the horrors of having a bed bug infestation.
Scientific Studies on the Psychological Implications Imposed by Bed Bugs
According to a Canadian study “Mental health effects from urban bed bug infestation: a cross-sectional study,” Dr. Stéphane Perron and his team concluded that “individuals exposed to bed bug infestations are at risk of experiencing sleep disturbance and of developing symptoms of anxiety and possibly depression.”
In this study, researchers compared two groups of people in Montreal living in separate housing complexes that were both considered to have unfit housing conditions as defined by the public health office. Within these complexes, some of the units were infested by bed bugs and others were not. The psychological health of each individual was measured resulting in residents who were exposed to bed bugs being five times more likely to have sleep deprivation and anxiety disorders than the control group. Dr. Perron claims that these psychological implications are a result of knowing that you will be bitten by the bed bugs while you are sleeping, and unless you pay the high cost of hiring an exterminator, there is nothing you can do to protect yourself.
Another similar study went one step further concluding that bed bug exposed tenants can, in very extreme cases, have suicidal thoughts and require psychiatric hospitalization. This is due to the fact that bed bugs are so difficult to detect and get rid of without the help of a professional. This study mentions a 21 year old woman who had no pre-existing mental or physical conditions. Once she discovered bed bugs in her home, she began to develop an anxiety disorder which quickly turned into depression. She eventually began drinking heavily and tried taking her own life by over-dosing on over the counter pain medication.
Although bed bugs do not cause any physical harm to their hosts, the psychological damage that they can impose is very serious and should not be taken lightheartedly. If you do come across bed bugs in your home, call a bed bug control company immediately to assess the situation and put together an action plan to get rid of them. It can take up to a couple weeks before they can be eradicated from your home so try to be patient and follow the instructions of your pest control professional. Knowing that they are harmless to your physical health, try to remain calm throughout the extermination process. If you feel that you are beginning to experience sleepless nights and signs of anxiety, notify a health practitioner right away so they can suggest ways to reduce the chance of these problems developing into something more severe.