What is a Cockroach Allergy?
The allergen behind your allergy symptoms might be hiding beneath your kitchen sink. No, it’s not a household product you used too much of while cleaning; it has six legs. Cockroaches.
Cockroaches aren’t just unsightly pests crawling across your kitchen floor; they can be an allergy trigger as well. The saliva, feces and shedding body parts of cockroaches can trigger both asthma and allergies. Here is a look at cockroach allergy, and how to diagnose and treat this allergen.
The Cockroach Allergy
Cockroaches contain a protein, found in the insect’s feces or saliva, which is an allergen for many people. These allergens cannot always be seen, and can persist in areas where the cockroach was present before.
During an allergic reaction to cockroaches, white blood cells identify the cockroach allergen as a harmful substance like bacteria. In combating this, allergic symptoms develop when the white blood cells attack the cockroach allergens.
What are the Symptoms of a Cockroach Allergy?
Symptoms of a cockroach allergy vary among patients. Common symptoms include sneezing; running rose; stuffy nose; postnasal drip; scratchy throat; cough; and itchy, red, or watery eyes. More severe symptoms can trigger asthma, breathing difficulties, chest tightness or pain, low blood pressure, and trouble sleeping.
How is a Cockroach Allergy Diagnosed?
You doctor may order a physical exam and discuss your symptoms to diagnose a cockroach allergy. If it is suspected that you have a cockroach allergy, your doctor may recommend a skin prick test or specific IgE blood test. If you have symptoms year round, you could have a cockroach allergy.
How Can I Lower Cockroach Numbers at Home?
Pests need food, water and shelter to survive. Here are changes you can make to your home to reduce the numbers of unwanted pests.
- Cover all trash cans tightly.
- Store food in airtight containers – in cabinets, fridge or counters.
- Clean all dirty dishes. Do not leave them in the sink or on the counter.
- Sweep up food crumbs from counters, stove tops, tables and floor. Wipe, vacuum and mop floors regularly.
- Dispose left over pet food and clean the bowl regularly.
- Fix leaky pipes under sinks and in the basement. Cockroaches like damp places.
- Seal cracks in the walls and floors. Cockroaches can enter through these areas.
- Use cockroach baits and traps, not sprays. They can irritate allergies and asthma symptoms.
What is the Treatment for a Cockroach Allergy?
If your doctor diagnoses a cockroach allergy as the cause to your symptoms, treatment options are available for relief. First and foremost, limiting your exposure to cockroaches will reduce your symptoms. In other cases, you may also need medication to control allergy symptoms.
The following over-the-counter and prescription medications may help reduce cockroach allergy symptoms. Consult your doctor about what medication may be right for you.
- Antihistamines, available as pills, liquids or nose sprays, can relive sneezing and itching in the nose and eyes.
- Nasal corticosteroids, a nose spray, reduces swelling in your nose and blocks allergic reactions.
- Cromolyn sodium, a nose spray, blocks the release of chemicals that cause allergy symptoms, including histamine and leukotrienes.
- Decongestants, available as pills, liquids, nose sprays or drops, help shrink the lining of the nasal passages and relieve stuffiness. Use decongestant nose drops and sprays only for a short period of time. Oral decongestants can be used; side effects such as sleeplessness and increased blood pressure can result in some people. Consult your doctor to decide which form is right for you.
Anti-inflammatory medicines and bronchodilators may also be prescribed if you have asthma. In more severe cases, some people do not get complete relief from the combination of cockroach avoidance and medication. Your doctor may consider immunotherapy (allergy shots) as a long-term treatment that can help prevent and relieve the severity of allergic reactions.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are suffering from nasal congestion and blocked sinuses, it could be a cockroach allergy. Consult a specialist to diagnose and treat your symptoms. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Shukla today, and learn more about how we can help you ease your symptoms.