The Truth About Cockroaches and Asthma  

The Truth About Cockroaches and Asthma  

Cockroaches are never welcome in the home – they’re unsightly, unclean, and worst of all for many of us, produce allergens that often aggravates asthma and produces hayfever-like symptoms in sensitive people. If you or someone you know has recently developed breathing difficulties while in their home when they rarely had symptoms before, it’s worth considering if cockroaches are to blame.


What are the symptoms of a cockroach allergy?

You may experience:

  • Sneezing, stuffy, or runny nose
  • Itchy, watery, or red eyes
  • Itchy throat or nose
  • Coughing
  • A rash or itchy skin
  • Or any combination of the above

Asthma triggered by cockroach allergens are worse, often causing wheezing, breathing difficulties, chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath.


Why do cockroaches aggravate asthma?

It’s not so much the cockroaches themselves that aggravate asthma, but the “skin” cells they shed and fecal matter. Their allergens essentially work in the same way dust mite allergens do, which is by sticking to dust particles that settle around the home. When we clean or do anything that stirs up the dust, we also stir up the allergens, making a reaction more likely.


Is it true that cockroaches can cause asthma?

While it’s not yet confirmed, researchers believe that cockroach allergens may be responsible for the development of asthma in preschool-aged kids. Their allergens are unlikely to cause full asthma in adults that do not suffer from asthma, but anyone who has allergies may be affected.


Where are cockroach allergens found?

Cockroach allergens are not always accompanied by cockroaches as they can be brought into the home by other means (such as buying dusty second-hand furniture from a home that had them at some point, or picking them up from other people’s clothes while at school), though they will be in the majority of cases.

These allergens are most common in the kitchen, since that’s where cockroaches prefer to hang out, but you can inhale them anywhere they have settled on soft surfaces or stirred up into the air.


How do you eliminate cockroach allergens from the home?

The first thing you need to do is have a pest control company come and inspect your home to see if there are any traces of a cockroach infestation in your home or any of your outbuildings. Fortunately, if you’re in Arizona, we can do that for free (click here to learn more).

Once you’re sure you don’t have any live cockroaches in residence, you can:

  • Do a deep clean of your home – ideally, while the person with asthma is out of the house for the day. If that person is you, wear a face mask to protect yourself or hire a company to do it for you.
  • Deep clean your soft furnishings – put what you can through the washing machine and consider steam-cleaning your other soft furnishings.

The American Lung Association also recommends that any home where someone with asthma or breathing difficulties lives swap their floors from carpet to hard flooring to help keep dust and allergens to a minimum. Where that isn’t possible, you’ll need to vacuum frequently, ideally when the person with asthma isn’t home.


Worried about cockroaches?

If you believe cockroach allergens are causing your symptoms or those of someone you love, your next step should be a free assessment of your home. We cover homes all over Arizona, and we offer a free inspection to help you decide on your next steps. To book your home’s assessment, click here.

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