November 12, 2018

Just the thought of cockroaches scurrying along your floor and across your feet is enough to make your hair stand on end, and yes…take your breath away! Cockroaches are a fact of modern urban and suburban life. For some of us, exposure to roaches is an important factor and in many the cause of asthma. Plenty of information has been garnered on this subject, so we can better understand the relationship between cockroach exposure and asthma.

Recently, a major, federally-funded research project looked for allergy producing elements in the homes of several hundred children with asthma living in major cities across the United States. They measured the amount of cat, dust mite, and cockroach allergen in the bedrooms of these children aged 4 to 9 years. The results were striking. The most significant allergen in these inner-city homes came from cockroaches.

Of course it is more complicated than just making that assertion, due to human tendencies to develop allergies or to already be born with them. Many people, including the children in the afore-mentioned study, have the tendency to make allergic responses in their bronchial tubes to certain things that are breathed in. Some people are born with the propensity to make allergic responses, while others seem to acquire the tendency along the way as they grow older. Of course if you already have severe asthma, you are more likely to develop a cockroach allergy as well.

Not to get too scientific, here’s where the loathed cockroach fits into this story. The excrement and debris from decomposing cockroach bodies are just the right size to be lifted into the air, breathed onto the bronchial tubes, and acknowledged by the immune system, in certain people, as a signal to have an allergic episode or reaction. Proteins from the cockroach’s saliva, droppings, and shed insect body parts can trigger asthma symptoms. An allergic reaction in the bronchial tubes is what asthma is!

The moral of this story and subsequent research seems obvious…keep your house free of cockroaches to the best of your ability…right? Well there is more to it than that. Here are some simple tips to help you prevent cockroaches from spreading in your home:

How Can I Decrease My Cockroach Exposure – Sanitation is the key to preventing cockroaches in your home.

Empty and clean garbage cans frequently and keep the lid on at all times.

Keep food out of bedrooms, and limit eating food to only certain rooms. Clean up all crumbs left behind after you watch that movie in the living room and were pigging out on the couch!

Do not accumulate empty food and drink cans. Cardboard and newspapers collecting in one place will bring on the roaches, so throw it out!

Do not leave uncovered food out, especially overnight.

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, and use insecticide sprays if necessary. Do not spray where you prepare your food or where you may have children crawling or sleeping daily.

Remember, cockroaches are attracted to dark, humid and warm places in your house, like kitchens, bathrooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and storerooms. Give your attention to these primary areas when evicting these nuisances of the insect world, and you will at least minimize this dangerous allergy reaction. There are many more exciting things in life that can take your breath away than asthma!

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