How do bugs cause asthma?

Dust-mite droppings are considered by many, many allergists to be the single most important allergen that is associated with asthma. Dust-mite droppings can cause asthma in young children, and they can also trigger asthma attacks.

Dr. Lawrence T. Chiaramonte, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

Dust mites
Dust mites are the same size and shape as pollen grains, so they are easily inhaled and drawn into the bronchial airways. Every ounce of dust in a mattress contains about a quarter of a million fecal pellets, courtesy of mites. Therefore, most individuals in the developed world spend about eight hours every night breathing the stuff. The more dust-mite allergen, the more likely asthma will develop. About 23 percent of American homes have dust-mite allergen levels high enough to cause asthma. They know no social distinction; their presence in a home is determined by temperature and humidity, not social class.

Cockroaches are a very significant cause of asthma. They are common in multiple-family dwellings in most major U.S. cities, including expensive apartment buildings, as well as in single-family homes in warm, humid parts of the country. It is estimated that one visible roach represents a population of a hundred roaches living in the walls. Many parts of the cockroach are allergenic, including their bodies, urine, feces and saliva. When they die, their bodies break down and they become part of the house dust. In old apartment buildings, there may be many years' roach allergen in the dust, so anyone living in a home where there have been roaches at any time is at risk.

While roach allergen concentration is highest in the kitchen, the bedroom is a more important venue for exposure simply because we spend so much time in it. An estimated 6 million US bedrooms contain enough cockroach allergen to cause asthma.

Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

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Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

Asthma and allergies are at epidemic proportions. It doesn't have to be that way. Two experienced pediatric allergists tell everything a conscientious parent needs to know about these conditions,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.