Cockroaches can worsen asthma symptoms in some people. People can prevent cockroaches by reducing humidity, emptying trash, and more.

Cockroach droppings, saliva, and decomposing bodies have proteins that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

On inhalation, the proteins from the cockroaches can inflame and constrict the airways, leading to wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, cockroach allergens are among the most common indoor allergens.

This article provides an overview of cockroaches’ negative effects on people with asthma and how to prevent and manage an infestation.

Three cockroaches representing the link between roaches and asthma. -2Share on Pinterest
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The most common way to inhale cockroach allergens is by breathing in dust particles that contain cockroach droppings or body parts.

This is because, like dust mites, cockroach allergens can become airborne and quickly settle in carpets, furniture, and other places in the home, making it difficult for people with asthma to avoid exposure.

People with a cockroach allergy that triggers asthma may experience:

  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • chest tightness or pain
  • shortness of breath
  • other asthma-related symptoms

In some cases, cockroach allergens can cause a severe asthma attack. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children can be at a higher risk of developing asthma due to exposure to cockroach allergens.

Additionally, people with a history of allergies or asthma and those with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to the effects of cockroach allergens.

One way to prevent the spread of allergens and other potential health problems related to cockroach infestations is to get rid of them entirely by eliminating their food, water, and shelter.

A person can also try the following:

  • Hire an exterminator.
  • Vacuum up any visible cockroaches and their droppings or eggs.
  • Use cockroach traps or baits, but avoid sprays, as these can worsen allergies.

Prevention is key when it comes to cockroach management.

In addition to hiring professional help, a person can prevent a cockroach infestation in several ways:

  • Keep food in sealed, airtight containers.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around windows and doors.
  • Fix any leaky pipes, faucets, or appliances that produce moisture.
  • Clean all dirty dishes and countertops immediately.
  • Regularly empty trash cans and vacuum carpets and floors.
  • Remove carpeting and replace it with nonporous flooring.
  • Reduce the humidity.

Below are some answers to people’s most commonly asked questions about cockroaches and their effects on health.

Can living with roaches cause health problems?

Living with cockroaches can cause health problems, particularly for people with allergies and asthma. Cockroaches also carry harmful bacteria and can spread diseases, such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus.

Can roaches cause upper respiratory infection?

Yes, roaches can cause upper respiratory infections due to their ability to carry and spread bacteria and allergens that trigger asthma and other respiratory problems.

For example, a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus can cause upper respiratory infections and can be on cockroaches.

What bugs trigger asthma?

In addition to cockroaches, dust mites and other common household pests such as rodents and ants can trigger asthma.

Cockroach infestations can harm people’s health, particularly those with allergies and asthma.

Preventing a cockroach infestation requires eliminating their food sources and hiding places and fixing any moisture problems in the home.

If an infestation does occur, a person can take several measures, such as using traps and baits or hiring professional help to manage the situation.