If you are a healthcare worker you may know about the dangers of a latex allergy but this allergen can affect the average person more than you know. A latex allergy is a reaction caused by the protein in rubber called latex. Most people associate latex with the gloves that are used in hospitals and daycare settings but latex can be found in places you would not suspect. Here are just a few of the products that can contain latex:
- Children's Toys
- Rubber Bands
- Computer Mouse Pads
- Sports Equipment
Unfortunately in today's world allergens can be found everywhere. Environmental allergens include pollution, smog, pollen, dust and mold. Food allergies are also very common with allergies to items such as dairy, nuts, shellfish, wheat and eggs. The last kind we will discuss are contact allergies to various items such as nickel and various chemicals. An allergy to latex is a contact form of allergy in that you have to touch it to get a reaction though the air can even contain latex particles when certain powder is applied or coated over the gloves. As can be seen by the short list of possible latex sources simple daily routines can become very dangerous for those that suffer from a latex allergy.
Latex Allergy Symptoms
As with many allergies the symptoms of an allergy to latex can be mild or severe. It all depends on how sensitive that person is. Typical symptoms can include:
- red, itchy or watery eyes
- runny nose
- possible anaphylaxis (shortness of breath or shock)
Some other symptoms for those who wear latex gloves include cracks on their hands as well as rashes. Ironically the symptoms may take some time to surface. They can take take 12 to 36 hours to appear. These symptoms can be relieved by making sure that you take care of your hands, as well as wearing non-latex hypo allergenic gloves. Please keep in mind that latex allergies can cause serious life-threatening reactions like anaphylaxis with no previous warning or symptoms.
Who is at Risk for a Latex Allergy ?
Naturally those that are exposed to latex the most are the ones at highest risk. These would include healthcare workers, daycare workers, food preparers, janitorial workers and rubber industry workers. Latex gloves are the most prevalent exposure. Some suggest that those with hay fever have a greater chance of developing latex allergy. People who had several operations in childhood are also more likely to have this allergy. Though as can be seen by the prevalence of latex in so many products, anyone can develop a latex allergy.
The reaction to the latex is to the protein in the rubber. Connections have been found to certain foods and latex allergy. Some of these foods are bananas, avocados, kiwi fruit and tomatoes. They contain a similar protein as latex and can therefore cause a cross-reaction.
If you suspect that you have this allergy it is of course advisable to contact your doctor. They will probably direct you to an allergist to confirm your allergy. Typically testing for a latex allergy is done via blood tests since a skin test could prove rather dangerous. We all tend to walk around oblivious to some of the dangers that surround us. Being aware of possible allergies including a latex allergy can possibly make a life or death difference.