17 Signs Your Bug Bite Is Something Serious

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Summer is many people’s favorite season for a reason: Its days are packed with backyard barbecues, pool parties, and long days at the beach. But while the dog days provide plenty of sunshine and sangria, they come with a nuisance that’s not an issue during the rest of the year: bugs. And it’s not just that they’re annoying, either; unfortunately, many of these irritating insects also have the potential to cause serious harm, thanks to their venom and the diseases they carry.

So if we can’t avoid bugs altogether, then what is there to be done to prevent a trip to the hospital? For starters, you can memorize the signs we’ve compiled here that a bug bite is doing some serious damage to your body. Read on to find out what to look for, and when to get that bug bite checked out by a medical professional.

1-The area around the bite is swelling.

Though swelling is a common reaction to most bug bites, excessive swelling can be a cause for concern. If you notice that the area around your bite is continuing to swell after a few days—or even that the swelling is extending to other parts of the body—then it’s vital that you seek medical attention to identify the type of bite and receive treatment accordingly. In particular, a swollen eyelid is cause for concern, says Joseph Alton, MD, author of The Survival Medicine Handbook.

“[This is] known as ‘Romana’s sign,'” he tells Best Life. “It could be a sign of Chagas disease, an infection caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted to animals and people by insect vectors. The unusual swelling is caused by the parasite infecting the eyelid when bug feces is accidentally rubbed into the eye or from a bite nearby on the same side.”

Alton says that although this parasite used to only be found in Latin America, it’s now being reported in certain parts of the U.S.

2-There is bruising.

Thanks to your body’s autoimmune response, most insect bites will swell at the sight of puncture, but few will bruise unless there’s something serious going on. Should a mysterious bite start to turn black and blue, it’s likely that something is happening inside your body that needs to be checked out, like an allergic reaction to a mosquito’s saliva or even a staph infection.

3-You’re experiencing chest pain.

Though uncommon, bug bites can cause severe allergic reactions that have been known to result in fatal heart attacks. If you ever notice a bug bite on your body and subsequently begin to experience chest pain, head to the hospital right away.

4-Your throat is closing up.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bites from dangerous arachnids like the black widow and brown recluse generally clear up on their own, but in severe scenarios, these venomous stings can cause difficulties breathing and ulcerations at the site of penetration. These symptoms are indicative of a more serious issue, such as anaphylactic shock, and they shouldn’t be ignored.

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