When you hear about allergies, you probably think about pollen and dust. But do cockroaches ever come to mind? They might, considering they can trigger asthma and allergies for some people. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that “cockroach allergy was first reported in 1943, when skin rashes appeared immediately after the insects crawled over patients’ skin. Skin tests first confirmed patients had cockroach allergy in 1959.”
Scientists discovered in the 1970s that cockroach allergens can trigger scratchy throat, itchy eyes, and asthma attacks in those allergic to them. These acute attacks could last up to several hours. Research has shown that “the frequent hospital admissions of inner-city children with asthma often is directly related to their contact with cockroach allergens—the substances that cause allergies. From 23 percent to 60 percent of urban residents with asthma are sensitive to the cockroach allergen.”
Scientists have theorized that cockroach allergens are affecting children so much nowadays because they spend more time indoors, where the allergens are typically found. In addition, socioeconomic factors play a large role because residents of low-income housing are affected the most.
The AAFA suggests that “cockroach [allergies] should be suspected, though, when allergy symptoms—stuffy nose, inflamed eyes or ears, skin rash or bronchial asthma—persist year round.” If cockroach allergens are discovered in your home, the best option is to call pest control experts or to use non-chemical traps to rid your home of roaches. Also, quickly remove trash and garbage, and use antihistamines, decongestants, and anti-inflammatory medications to control nasal and sinus symptoms.