Cockroaches are the most common pest found in our houses. Appearance of even one of them can leave us panic-stricken! These are one of those unwanted guests in our dwellings that leave us petrified. No matter how much we try to get rid of these crawly creatures, they somehow find their way back home. Cockroaches choose to flourish in our homes because all the essential requirements for their survival like food, humidity, water, and optimum temperatures are easily available for them. But cockroach infestation in our homes is not good for our well-being as they can prove to be a potential cause for food poisoning and allergic reactions. Cockroach allergy is developed in many individuals due to their sensitivity to cockroach allergen, but unknowingly, most of us relate it to a commonly known cause like dust, pollen grains, etc. Increased awareness about this allergy will help in prompt identification and treatment.
Cockroaches multiply quickly in favorable conditions. This is why, a single cockroach entering in our household multiplies fast enough to produce several cockroaches in a very short time span. These household pests produce saliva, secretions, cast skins, waste matter, eggs, etc., which decay to produce potent allergens. The dried remnants of their dead bodies can turn into tiny pieces that can easily remain suspended in the surrounding air. Regular household chores like vacuuming, sweeping, and other activities can disperse the allergens all over. The size of allergen can range from 10-200 microns. It is actually the protein in the allergen that is responsible to trigger an immune reaction.
The Immune Response
Most of the people are not affected by a cockroach allergen, but some of us may develop sensitivity towards it. When a person sensitive to the allergen comes in contact with it, the body treats it as an unwanted harmful substance and starts producing antibodies to counterattack it. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is the specific antibody produced against the allergen. These antibodies attach to mast cells present in the nose and produce an allergic reaction next time, the allergen enters into the body. The IgE binds to the allergen and triggers the release of histamine which causes the associated symptoms.
- Itchy and runny nose
- Itchy throat
- Nasal congestion
- Allergic rhinitis
- Eye irritation and watery eyes
- Worsened symptoms of asthma patients
A person with allergic symptoms is tested for cockroach allergy along with tests for other possible allergens. A skin test is conducted in which the skin is scratched with cockroach allergens and checked for development of allergic reaction. In case the person is allergic to it, his skin develops redness, swelling and a red itchy wheel. The size of the wheel corresponds to the severity of the allergy. Apart from this, an IgE test is conducted to confirm this allergy in an individual. However, this test is less accurate than a skin test and is performed on individuals with skin problems producing similar reactions.
The occurrence of cockroach allergy can be controlled by proper pest control in households like regular usage of insecticide sprays and other pest control treatments. Proper cleaning techniques can help in preventing multiplication of cockroaches thereby reducing the allergen content in the house. Medications are prescribed to individuals with developed allergic reaction to provide symptomatic relief. Allergic immunotherapy is also used in some cases to treat related diseases.
Identification of the allergen is very important in treating any kind of allergy. The possibility of cockroach allergy should not be taken lightly and tests should be done in case a person is reflecting possible symptoms. Minimum effort to get rid of them can be done by trying out home remedies for cockroach control. A small effort from our side can reduce the chances of this allergy and prevent cockroaches from creating nuisance in our homes.