Jeff Flowers on January 12, 2015 50 Comments Having any sort of infestation in your home can make your stomach turn. Rats, termites, and rodents of all shapes and sizes cause many different kinds of problems. Some of these problems can affect the integrity of your home while others can directly affect your health. A cockroach infestation can be a serious problem for any building, home or commercial. To understand the seriousness of a cockroach infestation it helps to understand what they are, where they thrive, how to get rid of them and what you can do to minimize the allergies that they cause. What Are Cockroaches? Cockroaches are insects that are identified by their long antennae and legs. They kind of look like beetles and may come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. There are about 30 different species of cockroaches, though only 4 are known to be pests. Photo Credit: BrewBooks / Flickr These bugs are scavengers, which means they go out and collect food. Ultimately, this means they go where the food is. If they can’t find food, they continue to look for it until they find it. Unfortunately, this oftentimes brings them into your home. Where Do Cockroaches Thrive? Cockroaches thrive best in warm conditions, particularly in areas where the temperature exceeds 70° Fahrenheit. They absolutely love humid and dark places. Cockroaches run away from bright light, which means you are unlikely to find them crawling out in the open on a sunny summer day. Even if there are a lot of cockroaches in one room, when you turn on a light, they will scatter. Typical of scavengers, if they discover that they have plenty of access to food crumbs or scraps inside your home, they are more likely to take up residence. They are also attracted to garbage and garbage disposals, since this is where a lot of food ends up. This can have adverse effects on the health of anyone inhabiting the building that the cockroaches infest. How Cockroaches Cause Allergies Wherever cockroaches go, they leave behind traces of their existence. Signs that you have a cockroach infestation include feces, saliva, and parts of their bodies that they shed or that fall off. Similar to dust mites, these parts of a cockroach contain specific proteins or allergens that may cause allergies or can even trigger asthma symptoms. In addition to these proteins that the cockroaches naturally carry, there have been tests done on cockroaches that examine the pathogens in their bodies. The scary thing is that cockroaches can carry some serious diseases. Salmonella Typhi, which causes Typhoid, has been found in cockroaches. Poliomyelitis, which causes Polio, has also been found in these insects. They can also cause Dysentery, a disease that causes severe diarrhea that may include bleeding. Symptoms of Cockroach Problems Physical signs that you have a cockroach problem can be seeing the roaches themselves. Since they run from the light and are nocturnal, they may be difficult to see. They will hide in weird places, including in drains and under mats. If you don’t see any roaches, you can still find feces that kind of look like pepper spilled on the floor. The amount of feces you find can be an indicator as to how many cockroaches you are dealing with. Photo Credit: Kodomut / Flickr Sometimes cockroaches emit odors which you may smell if you have a really bad infestation. You may also find bodies of dead roaches or sometimes eggs lying around. If you notice members of your family suddenly having symptoms of allergies and asthma, such as constant sneezing, watery eyes, a runny nose, or difficulty breathing while in the home, this can be an indicator of some sort of infestation. You really want to get your home examined if you or your family members experience severe diarrhea related to the condition of your home. Getting Rid of Cockroaches You have probably heard legends of cockroaches surviving everything, including any apocalypse the world can imagine going through. Cockroaches may be tough to beat, but they are certainly not invincible. If you suspect you have an infestation, your best bet is to hire a professional pest control technician to come and examine your property. The technician should be able to confirm whether or not you have an actual infestation. If you do have an infestation, your home will likely need to be treated by the pest control company. To prevent a cockroach infestation, it helps to have covers on your drains through which cockroaches cannot climb. You should also try to keep your floors and counters as free of food crumbs as possible. Roaches are also attracted to food that is in trash cans. In addition to food, roaches will eat paper and glue, such as that found in books or magazines. Keep these off of the floor and in containers as necessary. Always clean up messes when eating, including doing the dishes in the sink. You can find traps for capturing roaches if you want to try to treat the infestation yourself. Depending on the size of the infestation, however, you might want to consider professional pest control. Managing Symptoms Caused by Cockroaches To prevent and manage allergies caused by cockroaches, your best bet is to get rid of any sort of infestation entirely. Whether you decide to fight them yourself or call out pest control, getting rid of the infestation in your home will give you the best shot at minimizing the effects. It would also be wise to thoroughly clean your home. Remove the clutter and deep-clean everything. This will go a long way in creating an environment that is not favorable to cockroaches. Use an air purifier to help capture any roach droppings that may be airborne. If you or your family experience symptoms that are life-threatening, such as not being able to breathe or experience severe and bloody diarrhea, seek emergency medical help right away. If your allergies get really bad, you may want to consult a medical professional for help. Allergies can usually be prevented with medication and asthma can be treated with an inhaler. Once the roaches are gone, you and your family are more likely to get back to a normal, healthy life. It’s Never Too Late to Take Action It’s a fact that cockroaches can cause all sorts of health problems, including allergies and asthma in young children. It’s never too late to take action if you live in an area where a pest infestation is a possibility. Keep your home as clean as possible and clean up quickly after food messes. Get a pest inspection if you find signs of roaches or other pests in or around your home. Above all, seek medical help if you or your family need it. Getting help and taking action will help you and your family remain healthy and your home pest-free.