Everything you need to know about possible allergies to cockroaches and what you can do about it. Allergies are common, but some types of allergies are less well known than others. This includes an allergy to cockroaches. Because they adapt easily to almost any environment, cockroaches are found in almost every part of the world, regardless of the climate. However, they can be a bit of a problem because they prefer warm and dark places, which makes them gravitate towards buildings and houses.
In many cases, it is difficult to recognize that this is the cause of allergies, as it is a year-round problem. However, it is extremely common. Take a look at the five things you need to know about cockroach allergy to help you recognize symptoms, dangers, and possible treatments.
1. The cause of cockroach allergy
Cockroaches have a certain protein in their bodies that causes allergic reactions in humans, making this protein an allergen. Because proteins don’t dissolve in death, it doesn’t matter if the roach is alive or dead, it can still cause a reaction. Exposure to waste, saliva, or parts of the body can trigger an immune-related reaction.
2. Effects on children
Cockroach allergies are an even bigger problem for children than adults. Because the protein in cockroaches can trigger asthma and cause attacks, it is dangerous for asthmatics. In fact, studies show that children with a cockroach allergy are more likely to go to the hospital for asthma than children with asthma who do not have an allergy.
3. Common symptoms of cockroach allergy
As with other allergies, a cockroach allergy produces a number of symptoms that can range from mild to severe, such as:
- Sneezing and itchy nose.
- Itching in the mouth and throat.
- Stuffy or runny nose (or both).
- Skin itch.
- Skin rash.
Symptoms that can occur in people with asthma who are also allergic to the protein in cockroaches include:
- Tight or painful chest.
- Troubled breathing.
- Shortness of breath causing difficulty sleeping.
- Whistling or wheezing while breathing (which can also interrupt sleep).
When you experience these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor, who may suggest a treatment as described or may order a skin prick to test the potential allergen.
4. Avoid exposure to cockroaches
Depending on where you live, it can be difficult to avoid exposure to roaches. For example, in close spaces such as apartments, where you cannot control what other neighbors are doing, a lot of diligence is required to minimize the presence of cockroaches. Some areas of the country are also more prone to cockroach populations than others. However, precautions can be taken to help reduce or eliminate the presence of cockroaches and exposure to allergens in the home.
Some ways to help protect against cockroach allergies include:
- Cover all trash cans tightly, as cockroaches are attracted to trash and especially food scraps in the trash.
- Keep all food in airtight containers to avoid the presence of vermin.
Sweep and vacuum to avoid leaving crumbs anywhere that can attract insects, including roaches.
- Remove excess pet food from the bowl when your pet is not finished helping, or reduce the amount given at once if this is a constant problem, as cockroaches do not distinguish between human and animal food.
- Wash all your dirty dishes instead of letting them pile up, which will quickly and easily attract roaches into your kitchen.
- Seal cracks in any wall or floor to reduce the number of entrances roaches must crawl into your home.
- Fix any leaky pipes in any area of your home, as these are easy ways for roaches to enter (and they enjoy hot, humid, dark places).
- Prepare cockroach baits and traps in dark areas of the house and kitchen.
Do not use sprays to kill them, as these also contain allergens and could be a problem for people with severe allergies or asthma.
Taking these precautions can quickly improve the quality of life for those with a cockroach allergy.
5. Treatments for allergy to cockroaches
Limiting exposure to cockroaches is the best treatment for cockroach allergies. However, as mentioned, this could be difficult in certain circumstances. Therefore, it is also important to know the prescription and over-the-counter methods that help reduce the symptoms of this allergy.
Antihistamines: Allergens cause the body to produce histamine, which is a substance the body uses to expel the allergen from the body. This generally results in excess mucus production, sneezing, and other symptoms related to an “allergic reaction.” Antihistamines treat these symptoms, reducing the irritation from an allergic reaction. Available in liquid, lozenge, or nasal spray forms, both over-the-counter and by prescription, they are excellent solutions for a cockroach allergy.
Corticosteroids – Many people hear “steroids” and get nervous. However, a corticosteroid does not work like steroids that build muscle at exorbitant rates. It’s not the kind of thing that gets athletes in trouble. Rather, corticosteroids are known to “break down” unwanted substances. Available as a nasal spray, corticosteroids can be extremely effective in blocking allergic reactions, such as those caused by an allergy to cockroaches. They can reduce or nullify all symptoms, including congestion, and they have few side effects, making them ideal for treatment.
Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists- This is a new type of treatment that doctors prescribe for asthmatics that help treat long-term asthma and acute asthma attacks. They are available in pill form and combine the effects of other treatments, offering bronchodilation (expansion of the airways) and anti-inflammation (reducing inflammation in the airways). These are available by prescription and can be helpful against cockroach allergies in asthmatics.
Cromolyn sodium – Derived from a healing herb, cromolyn sodium has airway-expanding properties and has become an acceptable alternative to heavier medications to help keep the airways expanded and reduce the likelihood of inflammation in the system respiratory. That means it can be used preventively against the effects of a cockroach allergy for asthmatics. It is also easy to administer, made in a nasal spray solution.
Decongestants – Can be found over the counter in the form of a nasal spray, pill, liquid, or drops. A decongestant reduces inflammation by shrinking the lining of the nasal passages and thus relieves congestion and congestion. However, be careful because long-term use of these can cause other irritating symptoms, ranging from high blood pressure to insomnia and should only be a temporary fix. If none of these are enough, a doctor may prescribe allergy shots, which is a form of immunotherapy (using your own immune system to solve the problem).