Cockroach Allergies - An Allergen on the Rise

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There's nothing more unsavory than the thought of sharing your home with a metropolis of cockroaches.
Yet, no matter where you travel-from the jungles of Brazil to the streets of New York City-there are few places that cockroaches will not follow.
Notable figures in history were not spared from the grotesque plague of roaches-apparently Thomas Edison applied his know-how to construct a cockroach zapping device out of tinfoil and a large battery.
Though the idea of living with cockroaches is cause enough for dismay, if you also have a sensitivity to cockroach allergen, the situation could be life threatening.
Cockroach allergy is associated with dangerously acute asthma attacks.
Roach allergies were first recorded in the early 1940's, when tests showed that after a cockroach crawled across the arm of patients with the allergy, a rash appeared on the skin minutes later.
Since then, the number of allergic individuals has risen substantially.
Statistics show that more children are allergic to cockroaches (37%) than to dust mites (35%) or cats (23%).
The cause of the increase in sensitization is this:
  • The number of asthmatics has risen in general.
    In the past 30 years, the occurrence of asthma has become so common, that it is now considered one of the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood
  • More people are living in cities and urban environments, where the cockroaches thrive and spread.
    This increased contact causes sensitization.
    Inner city children have a higher rate of hospitalization for asthma-most believe that this number corresponds with cockroach allergies
  • More time is spent playing inside by children-video games, TV and other popular entertainments are indoors.
    For inner city children, physical safety can also be a reason for more time spent inside than out.
    Yet, being indoors increases the chances of coming in contact with cockroach allergen
The Effects of Roach Allergen: The effects of roach allergies The allergen produced by roaches is a protein found on their bodies and in their saliva and droppings.
An allergic reaction can occur when sensitized individuals inhale, swallow or touch traces of this protein.
Continued exposure can cause asthma symptoms-and attacks triggered from cockroaches are characterized by their severity.
Inhaling a small amount of the allergen can cause attacks that last for hours.
Cockroaches are often thought of as an indicator of a dirty environment-but this is not necessarily the case.
Apartments, condominiums, row homes and duplexes can spread cockroaches from one living quarter to another, regardless of the cleanliness of occupants.
Buying a piece of furniture from a yard sale can import the bugs into your home, yet even a new piece of furniture stored in a warehouse or kept with older pieces can be a vehicle for spreading roaches.
Cockroaches are perhaps the most invasive allergen:
  • Studies have revealed that 78 to 98% of urban homes have cockroaches
  • Each home with cockroaches roughly has from 900 to 330,000 of the insects
  • Private, well insulated homes are just as susceptible to cockroach infestation as apartment buildings
  • Once you have seen one cockroach, you can estimate that there are already 800 hidden in your walls
How to Manage Roach Allergies:
  1. Remove cockroaches from your home.
    It is suggested that you contract a professional pest exterminator
  2. You can also use poison baits, boric acid and traps to keep new populations of roaches from moving in.
    It is advisable to avoid most chemical treatments as they can irritate the delicate airways of asthmatics and allergy sufferers.
  3. Store all food in air tight containers
  4. Do not leave food waste trash exposed-if need be, place it all in a separate bag and tie it off between filling it.
    Put food waste in outdoor garbage cans at the end of the day.
    Make sure that all garbage cans have tight fitting lids on them
  5. After your pets are finished eating, remove excess food and wash the dishes.
    Often the dog bowl doubles as the cockroach bowl
  6. To manage nasal and sinus symptoms, use antihistamines, decongestants and anti-inflammatory medications.
    Your doctor will also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and bronchodilators if you have asthma
  7. If you symptoms persist or are severe, you should consider visiting an allergist and getting allergy shots.
    Over time this will reduce your sensitivity to the cockroach allergen.
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