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Asthma: Controlling Cockroaches

Topic Overview

Exposure to cockroaches may increase asthma symptoms. Cockroaches leave behind particles from their feces, eggs, and shells that can cause an allergic reaction. Cockroaches are a problem in many homes, especially in the southern part of the United States. Here are some steps you can take to remove cockroaches from your home:

  • Clean often. Pay special attention to carpets, upholstery, and bedding.
  • Don't leave food lying around the house, especially at night.
  • Keep all food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Don't leave pet food and water out overnight.
  • Clean up food spills right away.
  • Keep your house dry. Increase ventilation to get rid of moisture.
  • Don't leave garbage in open containers.
  • Throw away or recycle mail, newspapers, and boxes. Cockroaches can hide in these items.
  • Seal openings that cockroaches can use to enter your house. Pay special attention to windows, cracks in the wall, and gaps in the floor.
  • Use sticky traps that catch cockroaches and can be thrown away.
  • If you use cockroach bait or poisons, get the kind that come in ready-to-use childproof containers.

Chemicals can irritate the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs. So chemicals aren't the first choice for controlling cockroaches in the home. If you must use chemicals to kill cockroaches, be careful to keep children away from the treated areas. Follow all of the directions that come with the chemical. If you use a chemical spray, open the windows and doors during use and until all odor is gone. A person who has asthma needs to stay out of the house until the odor of the chemical is gone.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised March 14, 2013

Last Revised: March 14, 2013

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