Cockroaches: The Forgotten Allergens

Most allergy sufferers are familiar with dust mites, pollen, mold, but did you know that cockroaches also produce powerful allergens? Cockroach allergen is also a common cause of asthma attacks. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of American (AAFA) reports that 23 to 60 percent of urban residents with asthma are sensitive to cockroach allergen. In one study of inner city children, 23 percent were allergic to cats, 35 percent were allergic to dust mites, and 37 percent were allergic to cockroaches.

Cockroach allergens come from the feces, saliva, and bodies of the insects. Studies show that 78 to 98 percent of urban homes have cockroaches – and up to 330,000 roaches may live in a single home! If you see just one roach in a basement or kitchen, it’s safe to assume that at least 800 more roaches are hiding under sinks, in cabinets, and behind walls.

Like dust mites, cockroaches can cause allergy symptoms year-round. Symptoms may include a stuffy bose, inflamed eyes or ears, skin rash, or asthma. Your doctor can tell your if you’re allergic to cockroaches after performing an allergy test.

If you have cockroach allergy, you should avoid contact with roaches and all the particles they leave behind. Call a pest control expert if you have roaches in your home. To avoid a future cockroach problem, be sure to store all food properly and don’t leave trash sitting out. Use baits and traps instead of chemical pesticides, as these chemicals can irritate allergies and asthma. Unlike light, airborne allergens such as cat dander, cockroach allergen is typically heavy and quickly settles on surfaces. Vacuum often with a HEPA vacuum cleaner to eliminate cockroach allergen in your home.

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