Cockroaches produce allergens that create allergic responses in some people. The allergens are excrement and debris from decomposing cockroach bodies that crumble into tiny particles and become airborne. Although the allergens do not remain in the air for long, vacuuming or dusting can stir up settled particles allowing the allergens to be easily inhaled and cause an allergic reaction.
Asthma is simply the allergic response to allergens that are inhaled through bronchial tubes. However, not all elements that are breathed in stimulate allergic responses. Cat dander and ragweed pollen often contribute to allergic reactions but automobile exhaust and fog do not.
Studies on mice have shown the allergic reaction is caused when mucosa (the inner lining of body organs) is exposed to cockroach extract. However, studies with animals create some limitations since humans and animals have different allergic immune responses. But the findings have provided a better understanding of how the human body reacts to allergens.
Scientists are researching the correlation between early exposure to roach allergens and asthma in children age 3-5. A recent federally-funded research project collected air samples from several hundred homes with asthmatic children. The results found that exposure to cockroach allergens alone did not cause the most severe cases of asthma. The combination of children having a predisposition to allergic reactions and the exposure to high concentrations of cockroach allergens is what produced chronic asthma.
Although we cannot yet control what triggers are allergic reactions, we can limit the exposure of allergens to our body. Here are some tips to reduce exposure to cockroach allergens.