Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Protecting Yourself from Summertime Pests

Today’s guest blog post is different from those we usually present, but it is very appropriate for this time of year. Many thanks to Donneea Edwards-Moore, RN, MSN, the Pulmonary Hypertension Nurse Coordinator at the University of Chicago Medical Center, for providing these summertime tips for pulmonary hypertension patients.

While most people look forward to summertime fun, the summer months can bring about pesky insects that can ruin a good time. Enjoyable weather, backyard cookouts, and swimming in the pool can turn into battle of the insects.

Mosquitoes, stinging insects (bees, wasps and hornets), and ticks are just a few insects that prey on people for their own satisfaction. No one wants to be a buffet for these bloodsucking insects; they can be nuisances and can cause mild to severe allergic reactions in some people. These allergic reactions can be fatal to PH patients, causing anaphylactic shock and the exacerbation of symptoms. There are measures PH patients can take to protect themselves from these pests and prevent themselves from getting bitten and stung.

Mosquitoes (West Nile Virus)

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), almost 40,000 people in the U.S. have been reported with West Nile virus disease since 1999, and of those, more than 17,000 have been seriously ill.
  • Use insect repellents recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the CDC that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Use alternative methods such as Citronella-infused oils, Off!, or Skin-so-soft (Avon).
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and pants to prevent exposure.
  • Limit your time outdoors between dusk and dawn as they tend to bite during these hours.
  • Support your local community mosquito control programs by checking with your local health department to get more information on mosquito control.

Bees, Wasps, and Hornets

Thousands of people are stung by insects each year, and as many as 90–100 people in the United States die as a result of allergic reactions. This number may be under reported as deaths may be mistakenly diagnosed as heart attacks or sunstrokes or may be attributed to other causes.
  • Avoid fragrances (lotions, hair spray) as they are attracted to sweet scents.
  • Don’t wear bright colors, particularly floral patterns, as this attracts them more.
  • Be careful not to leave food and drinks out and uncovered.
  • Hold still as rapid movement startles bees and encourages them to sting. Instead, try blowing on the bee to encourage him to move on.
  • Wear clothing to cover as much of the body as possible.
  • Wear a hat as bees are in a heightened state of readiness when they are close to hair or fur.

Ticks (Lyme Disease)

According to the CDC, more than 25,000 cases of Lyme disease among Americans will be reported this year.
  • Avoid wooded or grassy areas with high moisture and humidity.
  • Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear only).
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots or socks.
  • Perform Tick checks on the entire body, and if found, remove tick quickly with tweezers.

If any of the following symptoms appear after being bitten or stung, seek immediate medical attention for treatment:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hives
  • Swelling to face, lips, tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness and anxiety

Learn more about how to prepare for summertime fun in the section Warm Weather and PH on PHA's website. You will find tips for staying cool and a link to an informative webinar.


  1. Thank you. This is very good information. I haven't sat outside in the evening or after dark for years. But in the daytime there are problems too. Last year my friend got a tool that looked like a tennis racket and you put in batteries and pushed a button and the pest got zapped. I got one this year from Amazon but haven't used it yet. I hope I don't zap myself though.

  2. I have one of these too but I am worried that the spark is dangerous while using oxygen

    1. the spark is so minimal that i believe it would have no issues. you could get these electric fly swatters a Harbor Frieght if you have that store near you at a very reasonble price - around $3.00 w/coupon. :-)

  3. Citronella, and lemon and eucalytus oil work nice too. So does lemongrass and orange oil. You can make a combination you like by putting the drops in a small spray bottle of water. Make it smell nice, then use it on you and around you. You can put the drops in almond or jojoba oil too, or olive, and spread it on your skin, like they do for massages.