Roach Control to Improve Your Asthma

Cockroach on fork
GUSTOIMAGES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Cockroaches are insects with 6 legs and 2 pairs of wings that are common throughout the United States, but especially in the South and in crowded cities. Proteins from the cockroaches saliva, droppings, and shed insect body parts can trigger asthma symptoms.

Roach Allergy

If you already have severe asthma, you are more likely to develop a cockroach allergy.

Additionally, people with allergic rhinitis symptoms chronically and repeat ear infections are at greater risk.

This allergy is more common when you live in areas with bigger cockroach problems such as in inner-cities in the South. Low socioeconomic status has also been noted as a risk factor. In a study looking at inner city children, nearly 40 percent were allergic to cockroaches and this translated into a 300% increased risk of hospitalization due to asthma.

Symptoms can be very similar to those for allergic rhinitis and other allergies—itchy skin, scratchy throat and watery itchy eyes and nose. If you live somewhere where cockroaches are a problem all year long the symptoms may persist throughout the year or they may only occur seasonally with the cockroach problem.

The diagnosis of cockroach allergy is made through skin testing. The doctor will innoculate your arm by scratching or pricking your skin with a cockroach extract.

A reaction (a redness or swelling at the site) confirms may be allergic to the insect.

Where You're Likely to Find Roaches in Your Home

Cockroaches are attracted to dark, humid and warm places in your home like:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Bedrooms

Cockroaches do not like light and will scatter when a light is turned on—a trick to remember if you are trying to discover the pesky pests hiding places.

Cockroaches will feed on many different things like:

  • Grease
  • Crumbs
  • Pet food
  • Left out food
  • Food cans

Any place where these things accumulate is a potential haven for cockroaches.

How to Decrease Your Cockroach Exposure

Sanitation is the key to preventing cockroaches in your home. These simple tips can go a long way to prevent cockroaches from spreading:

  • Empty garbage cans frequently and keep the lid on at all times.
  • Keep food out of bedrooms and limit to only certain rooms.
  • Do not accumulate empty food and drink cans.
  • Do not leave uncovered food out.
  • Clean kitchen countertops and floors at least weekly.
  • Seal holes and cracks on the exterior of your home that cockroaches can enter.
  • Consider poison baits or traps for under stoves and refrigerators.
  • If you use insecticide sprays, do not spray where you prepare your food or where you may have children crawling or sleeping.

Sources:

Consumer Web Information.  Cockroaches and Pests U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Consumer Web Information. Cockroach New York City Department of Health and Hygiene