When most people think of asthma and allergies they typically think of fresh-cut grass, flowering plants or allergic reactions to peanut butter and shellfish. Chances are cockroaches are not top of mind, but they should be!
First reported back in the 1940s, cockroach allergies are most common in urban areas. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation estimates 23% to 60% of urban residents with asthma are sensitive to the cockroach allergen.
To put those startling numbers in perspective, if you took the City of Los Angeles with the current population of an estimated 3.9 million people, anywhere from 897,000 to 2.3 million people could potentially be allergic to cockroach allergen. Those numbers make my top hat spin!
Cockroaches are one of the oldest and toughest (think $3 steak!) pests our specialists come across. The most common variety is the German cockroach but residential and commercial customers may also encounter the American and Oriental cockroach. They sound so worldly but they are far from it!
How do I know if I am allergic to cockroaches?
Diagnosing to determine if a person with persistent asthma is allergic to cockroaches can only be made by a skin test. A doctor will scratch or prick the skin with cockroach extract and if redness, an itchy rash or swelling appear then it is likely the person is allergic to cockroaches.
If someone in your family does have asthma or an allergy, studies are finding that treatment should begin in the home rather than the hospital. NPR recently reported on a program called the Community Asthma Initiative that the Children’s Hospital in Boston recently began to work with patients in their homes to eliminate or reduce their exposure to triggers at home. In the 7 years the Initiative has been active, ER visits have been reduced by 56% and hospitalizations from asthma have dropped a whopping 80%.
Cockroaches and asthma
Not only do cockroaches pose a threat to your allergies, they are also known to be a cause of asthma attacks. The American Lung Association provides these eye-opening facts about asthma:
- Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15.
- Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children, currently affecting an estimated 6.1 million children under 18 years.
- Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.
There are multiple triggers for asthma in children and one of the leading ones is cockroaches. Yes, the creepy crawlies that gross us out when we find them in our food can also, just by being there, cause our families to be sick! Cockroach feces, saliva or body parts trigger asthma since they contain certain proteins that can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma symptoms.
Where can you find cockroaches?
The allergens these filthy pests leave behind in homes linger in the air or, even if your home is sparkly clean, settle in house dust. They become airborne when the air is stirred up by movement like children playing or running through the house.
These disease-carrying critters live both inside (German) and outside (American and Oriental) structures and will thrive when they have access to food, water and a dark harborage spot.
Their tastes in food run the gamut and then some. Cockroaches eat just about anything including decaying matter such as food, garbage, feces and the like. They also enjoy strength in numbers; did you know a female German cockroach can produce over 30,000 little cockroaches in one year!
Cockroach prevention tips
Western Exterminator Company has years of experience effectively eliminating cockroaches from homes and businesses. From our work in the trenches, we offer you the following tips to keep cockroaches out of your kitchen cupboards, laundry room or kitchen:
Rescind Their Invitation
- Cockroaches can sneak in with paper products, packaging and used appliances. Inspect bags or boxes of groceries brought into your home or shipments brought into your business.
- Regularly vacuum or sweep areas that might attract cockroaches.
- Seal cracks and openings around or inside cabinets.
Cut Off Their Food & Water Supply
- Store food in sealed containers. Never leave food, crumbs or trash uncovered anywhere.
- Clean up any food debris or spills right away; do not allow any food or spills to sit overnight; do not leave uneaten pet food out overnight.
- If you must leave dirty dishes, put them in the sink and cover them with soapy water.
- Use trash cans with tight-fitting lids. Avoid placing trash under the sink. Empty trash cans often. Put garbage in sealed plastic bags.
- Fix leaky faucets and drains.
Do you have questions about eliminating cockroaches or any nuisance pests in your home or business? If so, the team at Western Exterminator can help. Contact us today.