You need to be aware of the signs of latex allergy. If you are allergic, you can prevent most problems by protecting yourself from contact.
Repeated contact with latex can increase the chance of getting a latex allergy and can worsen the reaction.
Many items contain latex
There are many places, including medical settings, where you can come into contact with hundreds of products made with latex. Only products used as medical supplies are required by law to be labeled as “latex-free” or “containing latex”. The following is only a partial list.
Common items made with latex:
Baby bottle nipples
Elastic in diapers
Hot Water Bottles
Rubber on shoes
More detailed lists and latex allergy information may be found at various website addresses, including the following:
Protect yourself from exposure to latex
Remember to report the need for latex precaution in each and every medical visit and in community places. These places include hospitals, clinics, doctor and dentist’s offices, pharmacies, nursing homes, day care, schools, and work settings. You have the right to question the latex content of any product used in each setting.
Wear some form of medical identification if you are allergic to latex and follow instructions given to you by your nurse or doctor at all times. This may include taking medication.
Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction
A response to latex may occur right away or not happen for hours after contact with an object. Sometimes it is hard to know which object caused it. The following may be symptoms of a latex allergy. It is very important to respond to these symptoms.
Seek medical help immediately if the person has difficulty breathing, complains of chest pains, or seems in general distress.
Skin: Rash, swelling, hives, itching, redness, and irritations (This reaction may be small or cover large areas of the body.)
Eyes: Itching, tearing, watering, redness
Nose/throat: Runny nose, tightness and/or swelling of the throat, sneezing, itching
Lungs: Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing
Heart: Chest pain, palpitations, lightheaded, fast heart beat, drop in blood pressure
Intestine: Abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
Food and Latex Allergy
There is a strong cross-reaction between some food allergies and latex allergy. Food sensitivity or allergy may exist before the onset of latex allergy. It may develop at the same time or after the latex allergy. Existing or potential food allergies should be considered in any person with an allergic reaction to latex.
People with latex allergy/sensitivity often have cross-reactions to certain foods. The immune system may react to these foods as if they contained latex because of the similarity in their protein structure to the protein structure of natural rubber latex.
These ‘cross-reactive’ foods and their degree of association include:
Pear – Peach
Cherry – Pineapple
Strawberry – Grape
Hazelnut – Walnut
Fig – Peanut
Rye – Wheat
Apricot – Nectarine
Fruit – Plum
Passion Soybean – Milk
Permission to use and adapt the material for this packet given to Cathy Tallen, BMH by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 11/01.