What is a latex allergy? It is an allergic reaction to products that contain latex, made from a sap that flows from rubber trees. With allergies, the body perceives certain chemicals or substances as foreign and begins to attack them. Histamine is released to deal with the invaders and that is what leads to the symptoms of allergies that we see on the outside.
Your reaction to latex can be anything from a mild sensitivity to a full-blown reaction referred to as anaphylaxis. The latter is serious and requires immediate medical attention.
Allergies can be diagnosed from doing tests. The most common is the skin test. Needles that correspond to certain common allergic substances are used to prick the skin. If a raised bump shows up, that is considered a positive reaction. There is not enough of the substance on the needle to cause a serious reaction.
Blood tests also show the presence of certain antibodies that your body makes to fight invading enemies. The test can help you determine if you have sensitivity to the latex proteins or something else.
Medical personal and those who work in factories are often required to wear gloves. Some latex gloves are covered with powder in the inside to preserve the glove and also to cut down on sweating. When the gloves are removed, some of the latex protein is aerosolized with the powder. Over time, the skin can develop sensitivity to the latex and certain signs will appear: rashes, redness and itching when you come in contact with it. The reaction is localized to the point of contact.
For people who have a more serious allergy, symptoms are more involved: runny nose, sneezing, itching, coughing and sometimes difficulty breathing. As soon as anyone touches you with latex or you come in contact with the proteins, you experience these symptoms. When anaphylaxis occurs you can experience dizziness, a drop in pulse rate and blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, and you may pass out.
People who suffer from latex allergies are also susceptible to certain food allergies. Why is that? Some of the same allergens that make latex dangerous to you are also found in some foods. Avoid bananas, kiwi fruit, chestnuts and avocados for a start.
Once diagnosed with a latex allergy, be sure to tell any future medical personnel about your condition. They will need to refrain from using latex gloves around you. Also, be on the lookout for products that are made from natural rubber latex. These will also need to be avoided.