Latex Allergy

allergic to latexSome nurses and doctors must have latex free gloves in order to examine their patients. You may have noticed when you are receiving medical care; the person who will examine you will ask you if you are allergic to latex. If you are allergic to latex, the person examining you will have to wear latex free gloves. The more you are exposed to latex the worse your allergy can become, so always tell your medical professionals that you are allergic to latex.

Somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of health care workers are allergic to latex. Most hospitals and doctors’ offices have done away with latex gloves entirely, to those flimsy translucent plastic gloves. Other than medical personnel, the people most likely to be allergic to latex are those with eczema, asthma, people with a weakened immune system, and people with allergies to certain foods, such as bananas, avocados, and chestnuts.

Individuals who are allergic to latex are allergic to a protein in the latex. The immune system confuses this harmless protein as a harmful pathogen. The immune system produces antibodies to destroy the antigen (the protein in latex). The antibodies tell the immune system to flood your body with histamine, which causes the allergic response. If you are allergic to latex, your symptoms could be mild to severe.

allergies to certain foodsLots of people have a reaction to latex gloves, but it isn’t an actual allergy. Sweat forms on your hands when you are wearing gloves. If your hands get a little red, it could be just contact dermatitis that goes away soon after you take the latex gloves off and wash your hand. However, you could have allergic contact dermatitis; you have an allergy to the protein in latex that causes allergic dermatitis. Allergic dermatitis can manifest with redness, rashes and may even result in blisters on your hands.

A more serious allergy to latex is a hypersensitivity immune system response to the protein in latex. If you have this more serious form of allergic response to latex, you may have symptoms immediately after having been exposed to latex. The symptoms of an immune response to latex are hives, dry throat, nausea, diarrhea, itching, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. If severely allergic to latex you could go into anaphylactic shock.

respiratory arrestAnaphylaxis is the most serious allergic response, which needs immediate medical attention. Because the smallest tubes that connect with the lung constrict during anaphylaxis, an individual in shock can go into respiratory arrest. Once the individual has stopped breathing, he/she could go into cardiac arrest and die. Anyone who has been exposed to latex and suddenly has difficulty breathing, is wheezing, or is mentally confused, or has slurred speech needs emergent medical care. Other symptoms of impending anaphylactic shock are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weak rapid pulse.

Latex gloves are not the only culprit that could cause a latex allergy. Most dishwashing gloves contain latex. Latex is used in thousands of products that we use or come into contact with every day. For instance, the carpet you walk on could have latex in it. The hand grips on bicycles and motorcycles have latex in them. Balloons, rubber toys, and the nipples on baby bottles have latex in them. Sanitary napkins, condoms and diaphragms also contain latex. If you are allergic to latex, you will have to read labels on everything you plan to purchase. There are latex alternatives to almost every product. For instance, you can buy condoms, diaphragms, gloves, bras, underwear, balloons, rubber bands, elastic and many other items. If you have difficulty finding latex free items in the stores, you can buy them online.

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