Secrets about latex allergies you never knew
People with latex allergies have an immune response to the natural rubber latex that is found in gloves, balloons and other items. There are three types of reactions to latex. The most severe, life-threatening is when a person has a full-on reaction and develops hives asthma and maybe even anaphylaxis. The next kind is a rash reaction on the skin when in contact with latex. The third is an irritation that occurs after prolonged use of latex.
Another potential concern the American Latex Allergy Association cites is that “as many as half of those individuals with primary latex allergy may develop clinical symptoms following ingestion of select foods (e.g., avocado, banana, kiwi).”
Although less than 1 percent of the population (about 3 million people in the U.S. has a latex allergy, there are certain groups in which the percentage increases. As many as 17 percent of health care workers and more than 60 percent of children with spina bifida are allergic to latex.
Since anaphylaxis can occur within minutes of exposure to latex, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and recognize potential dangers. Latex allergies can be triggered both by contact and as an airborne particle. Common sources of latex in the community include sports equipment, balloons, and condoms. Some jobs present a greater risk for exposure, such as healthcare workers, dentists and dental workers, laboratory technicians, housekeeping staff and food service workers.
This association between latex sensitivity and food allergy is often referred to as the latex‐fruit syndrome. Foods are divided into three groups based on the prevalence of allergic reactions: high, moderate and low.
High foods include avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi
Moderate foods include apple, carrot, celery, melons, papaya, potato and tomato
Low foods include apricot, cherry, chick pea, citrus fruits, coconut, cucumber, eggplant, fig, grape, hazelnut, mango, nectarine, oregano, passion fruit, peach, peanut, pear, peppers, pineapple, pumpkin, strawberry, soybean, turnip, walnut, wheat, and zucchini among others.
Latex and Medical IDs
People with latex allergies should carry injectable epinephrine (such as an EpiPen) at all times. But in the event you are unable to communicate your needs in an emergency, or administer the injection yourself, a medical ID bracelet engraved with “LATEX ALLERGY” could make the difference in getting the treatment you need.