Latex allergy is simply a reaction to the protein present in rubber used in different products. A reaction can range from sneezing episodes to a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical care.
Latex rubber which is thin and stretchy in balloons, gloves and condoms are packed with this protein. It is capable of triggering symptoms of latex allergy than products made out of hard latex rubber. Since some latex gloves are coated with cornstarch protein, the latex protein particles can adhere to the cornstarch and spread into the air once the gloves are removed. In areas where gloves are used and removed frequently, the air might contain latex particles.
Indications of latex allergy
It is important to note that the signs and symptoms of latex allergy can be categorized as minor or severe such as the following:
- Reddened, itchy, watery eyes
- Sneezing episodes or runny nose
- Hives or rash
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
Some individuals who use latex gloves might develop sores, bumps, cracks or elevated reddened area on the hands. These symptoms typically manifest 12-36 hours after exposure to latex. Using non-latex gloves, glove liners and observing proper hand care can relieve the symptoms.
An individual who is highly sensitive to latex can also develop a life-threatening allergic reaction with the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Weak or rapid pulse rate
- Loss of consciousness
Who are at risk?
Latex products are found everywhere and anyone can develop latex allergy. Healthcare workers and those in the rubber industry face the highest risk. Healthcare workers who were diagnosed with hay fever are at higher risk for developing latex allergy.
Those who are at risk also include individuals who had several surgical procedures, have spina bifida and those who have food allergies.
Connection with foods
Since some rubber proteins are strikingly similar to food proteins, some foods might also trigger allergic reactions among those who are sensitive to latex.
The common foods include avocado, banana, kiwi fruit, chestnut and passion fruit. Even though other foods can trigger an allergic reaction, avoiding them all might result to nutrition issues. It is recommended to avoid only foods that were identified to trigger an allergic reaction.