Living life with latex allergy symptoms can be challenging, but once you become more familiar with what products contain latex and how to avoid them, it is possible to manage the allergy and most of the symptoms.
Latex is made from a derivative of the sap harvested from rubber trees in Southeast Asia and Africa. You may be more familiar with the terms natural latex or rubber. When looking at products for your home or workplace, you should look for all three terms: rubber, latex, and natural latex.
What Do Latex Allergy Symptoms Look Like?
The mildest symptoms of a latex allergy might include a slight skin rash, itchiness, scaly skin, burning sensations on the skin, lesions, or red areas appearing on the skin surface. These symptoms show up sometime within 1 to 2 days after exposure.
The next set of symptoms associated with an allergic reaction to latex are a bit more severe. They include: a persistent cough, watering and itchy eyes, sneezing, a sore or scratchy throat, freely running nose, and even difficulty breathing or wheezing when you do breathe.
If you experience mild or moderate reactions to latex, it's a good idea to see your doctor while the symptoms are still occurring.
The most severe symptom that can happen as a result of a latex allergy attack is anaphylactic shock, which can potentially kill a person if it's not treated immediately. Anyone extremely allergic to latex would experience this symptom within seconds or minutes of exposure to latex in the air.
What would you see if someone was suffering anaphylactic shock? Symptoms or things to look for would include severe diarrhea, confusion, blood pressure dropping quickly, symptoms that mirror pink eye, rapid heartbeat, speech that is slurred, dizziness, weak or fast pulse, tremors, blue lips or nail beds, vomiting, chest pain, feeling nauseous, or wheezing while you breathe.
Reactions like the ones listed above require immediate medical attention, so call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room!
An allergy to latex can develop due to years of exposure or it can develop for no apparent reason. Children and adults alike are affected by latex allergies, but workers in the health care fields are affected the most.
It's possible to develop sensitivity to latex by inhaling particles of latex from the air. Some products produced with latex shed small airborne particles when rubbed or used.
Another way that you can develop an allergy to latex is through direct contact with products that contain latex or are made completely from latex.
Some people have what is called a true latex allergy. This medical condition is a result of the immune system reacting abnormally to the proteins that occur naturally in natural rubber latex. People who are this sensitive to latex will experience symptoms within seconds or minutes of contact!
Essentially, your body interprets that latex is dangerous to the body and reacts accordingly.
Do you have food allergies? There are certain foods that break down in the body in the same way latex proteins do, so you could experience latex-allergy-like symptoms from eating certain foods. An excellent list of foods you may want to avoid can be found here: www.clevelandclinic.org.
Medical facilities have made some changes now that they understand that children and adults can suffer from a latex allergy. There are still some potential hazards in a doctor's office or hospital for those who are allergic to latex.
Ask the nurse or doctor if latex was used to manufacture things in their office such as surgical masks, syringes, stethoscopes, electrode pads, respirators, tubing, or blood pressure cuffs. These items could contain latex and could cause a reaction in some allergy sufferers.
What every day products contain latex? You may be surprised to see some of the things on the list that contain latex.
Rubber gloves - medical and cosmetology field
Rubber toys for the bathtub
Mattress pads that are waterproof
Some clothing, including socks and underwear can contain latex in the stretchy bands
Rubber rollers at the checkout stand
Diapers - some contain rubber
Water hoses made with rubber
Area rugs that have rubber backing
Rubber grips on brushes or toothbrushes
Keyboards - rubber keys
Cords of all kinds - computer cords, mouse cords, telephone cords
Pens with special grippers - usually made from rubber
Dolls and toys that are made using rubber
Glue, glue sticks and pens, and other various art supplies
Sink mats, draining racks or sink stoppers that contain rubber
Pieces on gadgets like binoculars, cameras, or telescopes
Bathing cap or shower cap elastic
Mouse pads or wrist support pads - some made with rubber
Utensils with rubber grips
Rubber art stamps
Sanitary napkins containing rubber
There are two very different opinions on this topic. There is no hard evidence to indicate that latex mattresses actually cause allergic reactions.
On one side of the issue, the answer is no, latex allergy sufferers should never sleep on a latex mattress, no matter what.
On the other side of the issue, it is said that as long as you don't come into contact directly with the latex and the mattress is encased inside a cover, it's no problem for a person allergic to latex to sleep on a latex mattress.
Either way, if you are extremely sensitive to latex and react with severe symptoms when you're exposed, you should err on the side of caution and choose a mattress other than latex foam, just to be completely safe.
If you're considering the purchase of a latex or natural latex mattress, it's a good idea to consult your physician first before making any final purchase decisions.
For a comprehensive look at latex allergies, visit www.latexallergyresources.org.
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