Understanding Asthma and Allergy Triggers in the Home

- National Pest Management Association
Thursday, May 29, 2014

While we tend to associate spring and summer with seasonal allergies and plant pollens, there are also a host of non-plant and year-round triggers for allergies and asthma attacks. In fact, very common household pests, such as cockroaches, dust mites, rodents such as mice and rats, stinging insects and mold are all major triggers of allergies and asthma. 

Common symptoms of allergies include itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath and may range from minor to severe. Similarly, asthma symptoms include coughing (especially at night), wheezing, chest tightness or pressure, and shortness of breath. However, during serious asthma attacks “air hunger” and chest tightness can be severe — sometimes life-threatening — and require medical attention and hospitalization.

Although there are a number of different causes of allergies and asthma, it is important to identify and reduce exposure to the specific triggers or causes so that sufferers can take an active role in controlling, reducing the frequency and severity of allergy problems and asthma attacks. Not surprisingly, according to a recent survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), nearly all allergists surveyed (97 percent) believe a pest-free home is an important step in preventing asthma and allergy symptoms. In fact, 95 percent of respondents regularly advise their patients to reduce their exposure to pest allergens in their homes. They rank cockroaches, rodents, and stinging insects as the most problematic household pests for patients suffering from asthma or allergies. Nearly 90 percent of allergists surveyed would recommend that a patient with a pest problem consult with a pest management professional to help alleviate allergy and asthma problems.

The AAFA also reports that 78 to 98 percent of American urban homes have cockroaches. Asthmatic children who are exposed to cockroach allergens have been shown to be more likely to have episodes of wheezing, missed school days, nights without sleep, unscheduled medical visits and hospitalizations for asthma.

Seeking professional advice for controlling allergies and asthma is a two-fold process. It is important for a person suffering from these symptoms to see his or her doctor. It is equally important to contact a qualified pest professional to recommend a course of action to eliminate the problem triggering the attacks. This process is the best way to combat exposures to asthma allergens and reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.


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