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Healthcare workers or others that are required to wear gloves on a regular basis are often found to be suffering from a latex allergy. Latex is the sap that is produced by rubber trees and is then treated with a number of chemicals to give it the elasticity needed for commercial use.

Most people associate allergies with an immediate kind of reaction, but there are other kinds of allergies which develop over a longer period of time and due to repeated exposure.

Latex allergy falls in the latter kind of category and so people who have been wearing gloves for many years will realize that they can no longer wear latex without getting symptoms.

Symptoms Of Latex Allergy

The symptoms of latex allergy can be precipitated through direct contact or just by inhaling the particles released in the air during the removal of latex gloves. The symptoms may be mild or more severe and include the following.

Mild Symptoms:

  • Redness of the skin in touch with and immediately around the area of contact with the latex.
  • Itchiness
  • Rash
  • Small blister/pimple like growth

Moderate Symptoms

  • Continuous Sneezing
  • Redness and watering of the eyes
  • Swelling up of the throat
  • Difficulty in breathing

Severe Symptoms

  • Fall in blood pressure
  • Fainting  
  • Disorientation
  • Weak pulse
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The most severe of these reactions can be life threatening and are associated with an anaphylactic reaction that is relatively rare. Most people suffering from latex allergy will only ever have mild symptoms.

Why Does Latex Allergy Occur?

The immune defense system of the body recognizes latex as a foreign article and becomes sensitized to it. This means that the next time the body comes in contact with latex, a more severe and sustained immune response is generated by the defense system.

The symptoms that are seen are due to the release of histamine in the body, as in the cases of other allergies. A common observation is that people who are suffering from latex allergies also suffer from a couple of other allergies as well.

Foods That Precipitate Latex Allergy

It may sound odd, but there are a number of foods like avocados, kiwis, and even bananas that can trigger off the same response as latex in the body due to a number of shared allergens. People who are allergic to latex are thus much more likely to be allergic to the above-mentioned foods as well.

Diagnosing A Latex Allergy

A definitive diagnosis is made by the help of a detailed clinical history and visual inspection of the symptoms.

The doctor may also order some blood tests and a patch skin test to confirm whether latex is the definitive allergen or not.

Treatment

The first thing to do is to obviously avoid any product that might have latex since there is no permanent cure for the allergy. The symptoms can be easily managed with a course of antihistamines in most cases, however, severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis require an emergency adrenaline shot and urgent medical attention.

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