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The Link Between Cockroaches and Asthma
Cockroaches are an unfortunate part of living in many urban areas in Australia, and they can also be a problem for people who live in the country.
Cockroaches are not only creepy, they have been associated with a number of problems, including the spread of disease and germs. What many people don’t know is that cockroaches, especially the German cockroaches we commonly get here in Australia, can also be a cause of asthma and allergies.
If you or someone you live with is susceptible to allergic reactions or already suffers from asthma, cockroaches may be more than just an annoyance, they could be a serious health risk.
A study in the US has shown a clear link between the severity of asthma in susceptible children and exposure to high levels of cockroach allergens in their homes. While the problem is believed to be less severe in Australia, it is still worth knowing about, especially if you or someone you live with suffers from asthma or allergies.
Why do cockroaches cause asthma?
Debris from cockroach bodies, along with saliva, dead skin and excrement are small enough to go into the air and can be breathed into the lungs. This means that once they enter our bronchial tubes they can be recognised as an allergen by our immune systems.
In susceptible people this can lead to the body producing an allergic reaction, in this case an asthma attack. Not everybody is allergic to cockroaches but in those who are susceptible, the reaction can be very strong. Even in cases where asthma isn’t triggered, exposure to cockroaches can cause other allergy symptoms including runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing.
What can we do to prevent this happening?
If you or someone in your home is experiencing allergies and/or asthma, it’s a good idea to remove as many potential triggers as possible. Good ventilation is also important to help with air circulation and allow allergens to escape. Many people understand the need to be vigilant about dust mites and fur, but fewer think about cockroaches when they are eliminating triggers from the home.
Most professional pest control companies can take care of the immediate problem for you, and a few home pest control measures should keep them away over the long term. Keep food scraps sealed away, clean surfaces and floors regularly and avoid leaving food out of the fridge or pantry. Bedrooms are a particular problem for susceptible children, so keep all food and drinks out of your child’s room to avoid attracting cockroaches and other bugs.