Many of us have heard the old stories of families moving here to Arizona to escape the humidity, pollen, and pollution found in other parts of the country—all in an effort to find relief from allergies. We either have first-hand knowledge of this great escape, growing up as one of the “transplants,” or have friends who ended up in the Desert Southwest hoping to find an allergy-free haven.
What exactly were the “triggers” of those allergy attacks– the triggers that could cause such desperation? In the past, we often focused placing blame on plant pollens, dust, animals and stinging insects (wasps, bees, hornets). A closer look at the science, however, reveals that cockroaches, in fact, are shown to be major triggers of allergies and asthma attacks, too.
As far back as 1943, allergies linked to cockroaches were identified. Tests were confirming the link between irritations of the skin and the roaches that had just crawled over test subjects’ hands and arms. By the 70’s, it was becoming increasingly and obviously clear that the inhalation of cockroach allergens could trigger a bronchial attack that could last for hours. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, and it is the single most frequent reason of hospital admission for children under the age of 12 in inner cities. One begs to question, then, how often are our children’s asthma attacks being triggered by cockroach allergens as opposed to other allergens? Worse yet, if cockroaches really are the trigger, are we making things all the more complicated by forcing our children to stay inside, where cockroach populations are heaviest?
While the sharp increase in asthma over the last few decades is not fully understood, experts speculate that one potential significant reason is that among younger children, indoor activities are significantly up, increasing hourly and daily contact with the allergen. This factor remains true in heavily populated and urban areas where safety concerns keep children inside. Test studies have shown that those with chronic, severe bronchial asthma have demonstrated the focus group most likely to develop cockroach allergic sensitivities.
So here are the bigger questions: Do I or a loved one suffer from cockroach allergies? If so, what can I do about them? The number one thing you can do if you or a loved one has asthma is to avoid contact with roaches and their droppings. Next, make sure that you do not have roaches in your home. That being said, anyone keeping their home free of cockroaches is keeping a healthier and more sanitary environment for everyone. It should be noted this is not a job for you to take on yourself. Do-It-Yourself pest control products rarely, if ever, produce the kind of results needed to eliminate your pest problem. “Cockroach control can be very tricky,” note the experts at University Termite & Pest Control, Inc. “German cockroach control is sold to the consumer as an easy ‘set a bomb’, walk away, and forget you have a problem type of solution.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Often times, this compounds the problem and you end up worse off then you were before. Call a professional at University Termite & Pest Control. We will get your immediate problem taken care of properly and professionally the first time.
Finally, practicing good sanitation is an effective tool in keeping cockroaches at bay. Keep loose foods such as cereal and dry pet food in seal tight plastic containers, while keeping your garbage contained and sealed in an outside container.
Properly managing your nasal and sinus symptoms will alleviate the systemic reaction. Your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and bronchodilators if you have asthma. Use these according to your physician’s directions. Over the counter medications can help ease your immediate symptoms, however, if your symptoms persist, see your allergist for additional assistance.
These steps are the most important in reducing your exposure to cockroach allergens. Begin with professional pest control, such as University Termite and Pest Control, address the symptoms with your physician, allergist or pharmacist, and start living a clean cockroach and allergen-free life.