Information on Latex Allergy and Cross Allergens
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Had a few requests for more information about this devastating condition, which is alarmingly on the rise, so thought I'd post some facts and some links. Some of the phrases are pulled out of the links listed below without specifically quoting, as I've combined information from several sites. Please use the links below if you wish to repost any of this information rather than just reposting this blog. There is a little bit of conflicting information from one site to the next, and some sites focus on one aspect or another. Some of the information is also from conversations with my allergist, and conversations with other latex allergy sufferers. I AM NOT AN AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE OF INFORMATION.
Natural Rubber / Latex is a substance derived from the sap of a rubber tree. It is processed for many commercial uses. Individuals can be allergic either to the latex or to the chemicals used in processing, or both. The proteins that cause the allergic reaction are similiar to the proteins in many foods, hence the cross-reactions.
Natural rubber latex is found in many medical supplies, including disposable gloves, tubes, syringes, stethoscopes, catheters, dressings and bandages. The substance also is found in many consumer items, such as condoms, balloons, shoes, socks, pillows, mattresses, toys, diapers, and school supplies. There are over 40,000 consumer products made with natural rubber/latex. A label of "hypoallergenic" does NOT mean that a product is latex-free. The label "natural" on a stretchy fabric often DOES mean natural rubber is used.
In spite of the risk, most health facilities use powdered latex gloves. (latex gloves are slightly better barriers to disease) The latex binds to the powder in the gloves and becomes airborne. Exposure to latex or Inhaling the latex powder can cause symptoms that seem unrelated, such as skin rashes, sore throat, cough, itching, watery eyes diarrhea or incontinence to severe systemic reactions like asthma,, to throat swelling closed, sudden loss of blood pressure and shock .
Those at highest risk for developing latex allergy are people who have had frequent exposures to latex.:
- Patients who have had multiple hospitalizations and medical/dental procedures, and therefore have had repeated exposure to latex medical products.
- Individuals with other kinds of allergies, or who have asthma.
- Patients with spina bifida – this incidence of allergy is related to frequent surgeries and repeated exposure to latex allergens.
- Healthcare workers.
-food service workers where latex gloves are used
-people with allergic reactions to eating fruits (not necessarily the pollen tho), especially banana, avocado, and kiwi and/or nuts, particularly chestnut. *(full list below)
- Workers in the rubber industry
The risk of latex allergy may be greatest in those with a history of hay fever or other allergies, including food allergies.
.the figures from 2006 were:
About 3 million people (1%) in the US have been diagnosed with a latex allergy. This figure is listed elsewhere as 6% (AAAAI) !
Up to 17% of all health care workers have latex allergy.
Up to 68% of children with Spina Bifida have a latex allergy.
Thousands are treated and several die each year from anaphylactic shock related to latex allergy. The incidence of latex allergy is increasing every year, many go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as doctors are still not well versed in the subject (even my own doctor misdiagnosed an anaphylaxis attack because he didn't know latex was airborne!)
Symptoms include: contact dermititis, (poison ivy like rash) which can appear up to 36 hours AFTER contact with latex. With re-exposure, itching, redness, swelling, sneezing, and wheezing, gastro intestinal symptoms can appear with some developing severe anaphylactic responses such as difficulty breathing, loss of blood pressure, and rarely, death.
There is no cure for latex allergy. People with severe reactions must avoid latex.!!!
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers people with severe allergies to substances such as latex. Talk with your employer about your options. Service dogs can be trained to warn of impending anaphylaxis/
to find an allergist who specializes in latex allergy go to Find an allergist near you at:
www.aaaai.org/physref and specify latex as the type of allergy.
Some personal stories about the severe impact of a latex allergy
Please read Kara's story about her service dog that alerts her when she is going into latex shock at http://helpkara.com/2010/07/07
and Peggy Rourke Nichols article at http://www.thepinetree.net/ind
*list of foods known to cross react with latex allergy: (not necessarily a complete list, the syndrome is growing) Cooked foods appear to be tolerated in some cases, while the raw food produces allergic symptoms.
Avocado, Banana, Chestnut, Kiwi , Apple, Carrot, Celery. Melons, Papaya, Potato, Tomato, Apricot, Cherry, Citrus fruits, Fig, Grape, Lychee, Mango, Nectarine,
Passion fruit, Peach, Pear, Plum, Persimmon, Pineapple, Strawberry,
Buckwheat, Rye, Wheat, Coconut, Hazelnut, Walnut,
Castor bean, Chick pea, Peanut, Soybean, Dill, Oregano, Sage,
Peppers (Cayenne, Sweet/bell pepper), Shellfish, Sunflower seed, grasses, ragweed, mugwort
American Latex Allergy Association
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Auckland Allergy Clinic
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology