Natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy has emerged over the last decade, it is an allergic sensitivity to the proteins in NRL that often worsens with each exposure, which is a process called allergic sensitization. It may be difficult to recognize that various symptoms can be caused by latex allergy due the nonspecific nature of symptoms and lack of awareness of this type of allergy. Some people may have been sensitized to latex without yet showing external allergic symptoms which may ever develop if exposure is sustained (exposure can occur through direct contact with the skin, eyes, nose, mouse, etc.). It is also known that some foods have similar protein profiles to those of natural latex rubber (Foods that have similar protein profiles and cross react with latex: Banana, avocado, chestnut, kiwi, tomatoes, apples, carrots, celery, papaya, potato, melons.). It is also claimed that food allergy blood tests have poor indication for fruit intolerance or allergy for people with latex allergy. Some of the affected individuals may have serious generalized systemic reactions due to latex exposure
There have not been any major and reliable studies to accurately measure the number of people affected by latex allergy. Some reports claims that almost 15% of health care workers are affected, while others say less. Some reports claim that less than 1% of general population is affected, while others claim over 6%. One fact we do know is that latex allergy has been on the increase for the last decade.
Allergic symptoms range from irritating to life threatening, becoming progressively worse with repeated exposure.
Most effective strategy in the treatment of latex allergy is complete avoidance of any products that may include natural latex proteins, other tips include:
Latex proteins are water soluble, for example health care workers may sensitize themselves after removing gloves and touching their mouths or eyes with unwashed hands.
Latex allergy sufferers should avoid products that may contain latex as well as "latex-prone" areas (such as roadworks when asphalt is being used)
Diet adjustment may be considered
If you have latex allergy, it is important to wear a special necklace or bracelet to inform medical staff about this condition and carry an emergency epinephrine kit at all times.