Latex is a milky sap produced by rubber trees. The sap is blended with chemicals during manufacturing to give latex its elastic quality. Natural rubber latex is often found in rubber gloves, condoms, balloons, rubber bands, erasers and toys.
If you are allergic to latex your body treats latex as an allergen and sets off an allergic reaction. Latex allergies are most common in people who have regular exposure to latex products such as rubber gloves. That is why this allergy is most common among healthcare workers and people who have undergone multiple surgeries.
Approximately 50% of people with latex allergy have a history of another type of allergy. Certain fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, chestnuts, kiwi, avocado and tomato can cause allergic symptoms in some latex-sensitive individuals.
Allergic reactions to latex range from mild to very severe. Every year, there are hundreds of cases of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, due to latex allergy. The severity of allergic reactions to latex can worsen with repeated exposure to the substance.
Given the potential for a very serious allergic reaction, proper diagnosis of latex allergy is important. An allergist / immunologist has specialized training and expertise to accurately diagnose your condition and provide relief for your symptoms.
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Allergic reactions to food normally occur within minutes of eating the trigger food, though they can sometimes appear a few hours later. Symptoms of a food allergy include:
• Hives or red, itchy skin
• Stuffy or itchy nose, sneezing or itchy, teary eyes
• Vomiting, stomach cramps or diarrhea
• Angioedema or swelling
In some cases, food allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Signs of this reaction include:
• Hoarseness, throat tightness or a lump in the throat
• Wheezing, chest tightness or trouble breathing
• Tingling in the hands, feet, lips or scalp
If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Proper diagnosis of food allergies is extremely important. Studies have shown that many suspected food allergies are actually caused by other conditions such as a food intolerance. Skin tests and blood tests are often ordered. A food challenge under the care of your allergist / immunologist may also be needed to confirm an allergy.
Proper diagnosis of food allergy or food intolerance by an allergist / immunologist is the first step to managing your condition.
If you are diagnosed with a food allergy, the treatment plan will be to strictly avoid that food. If you are diagnosed with an intolerance, you may be able to ingest small quantities without having a reaction.
There is currently no cure for food allergies; nor are there medicines to prevent reactions. Yet there are steps you should take to manage your condition. The most important of these is avoiding coming in contact with food proteins that can cause an allergic reaction.
Read food labels to ensure that you don’t eat foods that contain foods to which you are allergic. Always ask about ingredients when eating at restaurants or when you are eating foods prepared by family or friends.
If you have severe allergies to food, be sure to complete an Anaphylaxis Action Plan and carry your autoinjectable epinephrine with you at all times. Use this medication in the event of an anaphylactic reaction.
For milder reactions, antihistamines may help relieve symptoms. Be sure to discuss this approach with your allergist / immunologist.
Food allergies can be confusing and isolating. Contact Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) for patient support.
The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Summary for Patients, Families, and Caregivers