Latex, particularly latex gloves, is used throughout the medical industry. But are you also aware that outside of the hospital, latex is also found in many different products? Latex, for instance, is a component often found in baby-bottle nipples, diapers, pacifiers, toys, luggage tags, apparel, candy wrappers, ornaments, and so many other items. It is surely hard to avoid; and because of continuous exposure, some individuals develop allergies to latex every day. To illustrate, 1% to 6% of the U.S. population has latex sensitivity, and 5% to 18% of healthcare workers develop sensitivity to latex as well because of constant exposure.
Allergic Reactions to Latex
It may take years of latex exposure to incite an initial allergic reaction. Mild latex allergies can cause itchiness, hives, or rashes. More severe symptoms include: difficulty of breathing, runny nose, wheezing, and coughing. In rare cases, latex can cause anaphylactic shock, resulting in loss of consciousness, drop in blood pressure, and rapid or weak pulse. When the allergy is severe enough to cause anaphylactic shock, latex exposure could literally be deadly. Individuals who show signs of severe allergic reaction to latex must get emergency medical care.
So what should you do if you are allergic to latex? Latex allergies are typically mild, and most of the time they are simply annoying. But even mild symptoms can progressively become more severe because of continued exposure. Exposure can happen in several ways, such as through direct contact or inhalation. Latex allergy can also exacerbate certain medical conditions.
How Latex Allergies Are Treated
Awareness is vital in case you’re allergic to latex or other substances. By knowing what things trigger an allergic response, you’ll be able to avoid such items. After you obtain information about your condition, it is best to seek out an allergist, which is a doctor that specializes in allergies. He’ll test you and see what exact elements cause your allergies. Then, he’ll likely prescribe antihistamine for mild latex symptoms. Also, your allergist can give you epinephrine or adrenaline that you keep with you at all times in case you experience a severe reaction. Finally, inform your family, co-workers, and everyone else about your allergy to latex so that in case you’re brought to the hospital for emergency care, your family or friends will be able to tell medical experts about your allergy so that they’ll only use latex-free medical supplies on you.
What You Can Do If You’re Allergic to Latex
In case you are sensitive to latex, it’s important for you to avoid any latex product as much as possible. But if you’re in a field that requires the use of gloves, like the medical or dental field, or if you’re a tattoo artist, the best thing to do is to find latex-free substitutes. For example, nitrile gloves are high quality products that can be used instead of latex gloves.Other options are synthetic latex gloves.
Outside of the medical field, many items have latex. Educate yourself about what products contain latex, like rubber bands, balloons, tools, and pacifiers, to name a few. By being more aware, you’ll be able to limit exposure. Also, wear a medical bracelet that states that you are allergic to latex.
It may seem completely impossible to avoid latex. But if you pay attention and take the time to educate yourself, you will be able to avoid or reduce exposure. This is especially important if you are severely allergic.