Cockroaches Worsen Asthma Symptoms

Armen Hareyan's picture

May is national Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and Combat brand pest control is doing its part to help spread the message. Although it might seem like an unlikely connection, studies show that there is a definite link between the cockroach allergen and the exacerbation and even causation of asthma.

"During the past few years, research has shown that cockroach allergens play a big part in the daily lives of asthma sufferers all over the country," said Dr. Gretchen Phillips, an MD with Fairview Hospitals, and a medical show radio host based in Minneapolis.

The link between cockroaches and asthma has been proven in scientific research since the 1970s. Between 78 and 98 percent of urban homes have cockroaches, and 23 to 60 percent of urban residents are allergic to the cockroach allergen, according to the AAFA. The cockroach allergen is so pervasive in homes around the country, most doctors require patients with persistent asthma to be tested for cockroach allergies, in addition to other environmental factors.

In the United States, more than 23 million people suffer from the chronic respiratory disease, including 6.5 million children.

Around 63 percent of all U.S. households have a detectable level of the cockroach allergen in the home, according to a 2005 study by The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Using Combat baits and roach-killing gels will help to kill the cockroach nest and ultimately improve the air quality. Here are a few additional steps to help prevent cockroach infestations:

-- Eliminate clutter, such as stacks of clothes or newspapers.

-- Keep food in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers, do not leave dirty dishes in the sink, vacuum regularly and don't leave out pet food and water.

-- Keep the inside of your home clean and do not leave out food or crumbs.


-- Seal cracks and crevices, including around water pipes and electrical outlets.

Suffering from asthma?

Combat asked Dr. Phillips to identify a few easy first-steps for people who think they might have or are currently suffering from asthma:

-- Consult your physician.

-- Avoid irritants, including pet dander, mold spores and cockroaches.

-- If allergic to pets, make sure they are kept from bedrooms.

-- Clean your home regularly, including air vents.

-- Vacuum two to three times a week.

-- Reduce humidity, which helps prevent growth of mold spores.

-- Avoid cold air.

Dr. Phillips is a family physician at Fairview Hospitals in Minnesota. Call for an interview.