- Approximately 34.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma by a health professional during their lifetime.
- An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease.
- Asthma rates in children under the age of five have increased more than 160 percent from 1980 to 1994.
- In 2005, nearly 9 percent of children in the US currently had asthma.
- 13 million school days are missed a year due to asthma.
Statistics from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology
Approximately 1 in 4 people have asthma, so it’s likely that you or someone you know is affected by this disease. With so many people affected, we should all understand what triggers an asthma attack and how controlling living conditions can limit the attack’s severity.
People often recognize allergies, irritants (such as pollution or smoke) and exercise as common asthma attack triggers, but did you know that common household pests can also trigger attacks? Studies show that allergens from cockroaches and rodents are significant causes of asthma in children, particularly in urban areas. For example:
- In November 2008, a study by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) indicated that developing antibodies to cockroach and mouse proteins was associated with a greater risk for wheeze, hay fever, and eczema in preschool-aged children living in urban environments. The study, published in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggested reducing cockroach and mouse allergen may have a long-term benefit to inner city children susceptible to these exposures.
- A 2006 Inner City Asthma Study looked at the relationships between asthma and allergen sensitivity and exposure among children ages 5 to 11 in seven inner-city and metro areas in the United States. More than 1,000 children were tested, and 69 percent of them showed sensitivity to cockroach allergens. The study’s results demonstrated an association of sensitivities and exposures – particularly to cockroach allergens – and the presence of asthma in children.
It’s important to control pests because of the health risks. If you have a severe pest problem, call a professional pest control operator to inspect the situation and eliminate pests effectively. Some tips to control asthma triggering pests, such as cockroaches, specifically include fixing leaks or any moisture problems that could attract pests, keeping open foods (e.g., cereal, pasta, crackers) in air-tight containers, throwing away anything moldy, and properly storing trash containers. Also, never leave pet food out and within pests’ reach overnight.
For more information on pest-proofing your home, check out our Florida Debug my House video. The homeowner is a concerned mother with a son who suffers from asthma. Hear her thoughts on the importance of controlling pests in her home.