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Asthma Due to Insects

Allergy to insects is quite common, particularly in the monsoon season when different species of insects breed and multiply. Insects have very short life and when they die, their wings and bodies become part of the ground dust. After drying and disintegration, when such dust is inhaled, it can cause allergic asthma. Asthma due to cockroach remnants is very common and present throughout the year.

Insect stings that most commonly cause allergic asthma reactions:

Some people with asthma are allergic to insects at home. The degree of reaction produced depends upon the type and quantity of venom introduced.

But in some people the venom acts as an antigen and, with the antibodies already present, causes an allergic reaction. Kill these insects before they can make you suffer with severe asthmatic attacks.


Insects that most commonly trigger asthmatic reactions on stinging include:

  • bees
  • wasps
  • butterflies
  • dragonfly
  • hornets
  • housefly
  • grasshoppers
  • ants
  • cockroaches

What symptoms usually occur on an allergic reaction to insect stings?

Allergic reactions to insect stings can bring in a sudden asthmatic attack which can also be life threatening. This severe reaction at times becomes a medical emergency. Symptoms include:

  • swelling of the throat and tongue
  • difficulty in breathing
  • dizziness
  • wheezing
  • headache
  • cough
  • rapid fall in blood pressure
  • chest tightness
  • loss of consciousness

What causes insect induced asthma?

Although the actual cause of such type of asthma is not known, studies have shown that several factors can lead to the outbreak of asthma. These factors include hereditary, development and growth of a person’s lungs and immune system, infections, allergies and his response to the environment.

It is difficult to conclude as to what causes asthma. We can generally say that a person is prone to asthma if-

  • there is a family history of insect related asthma, or allergy to insects.
  • many aspects of modern lifestyles – such as changes diet(if including shrimps, lobsters etc in diet), surrounding environment, pets staying in the same house (who may be carriers of insects on their coats)
  • sudden influx of a horde of insects in residential areas can make asthma symptoms worse
  • Irritants are found at home or workplace leading to a person developing asthma .

Treatment for asthma causing insect stings:

Immediate medical aid for highly-allergic people include:

  • If possible, immediately remove the stinger. Be careful not to squeeze the area, which may force the venom into the body and worsen the situation.
  • Use an inhaler immediately after an insect bite as a precautionary method.
  • Seek emergency medical care as soon as possible.

A visit to an allergist or your asthma doctor becomes must on the start of symptoms to manage the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma.

He might suggest allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy treatment. Venom immunotherapy shots are effective in curing allergic reactions.

Medical treatment will be based on:

  • extent of the reaction
  • the tolerance towards specific medications, or therapies

Since you are prone to asthma caused by insects, keep prescribed medications handy at all times and follow the attached instructions if you are stung. These medications are for immediate emergency use while going to a hospital.


What can be done to prevent these triggers?

Avoidance of insects is the best preventive measure. To control these allergens, one can do the following:

  • Use cockroach or insect baits/traps.
  • When outdoors, be careful of eating or drinking uncovered foods or beverages, which can attract insects.
  • Be well covered when outdoors – keep exposure minimum.
  • Avoid walking barefoot, and wear closed shoes when walking in grassy areas.
  • When gardening, watch for insect nests in trees, and flower beds.
  • Other areas in which to be careful: swimming pools, under leaves, trash containers.
  • Have your home sprayed with insecticide - but not when you're present there. Be sure that the repellent is aired out for a couple of hours before you come home.
  • Never swat at a flying insect. If need be, gently brush it aside or wait for it to leave.
  • Garbage cans stored outside should be covered with tight-fitting lids.
  • Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes, hair sprays, colognes and deodorants.

Avoid wearing bright-colored clothing so that you do not attract insects.