Almost everyone has heard of allergies to food or medications. But few people are aware of another allergy that can make you sick, or even kill you: latex allergy.
What is Latex Allergy
Latex is a naturally occurring product that is used to make “rubber” gloves, tubing and other items that are common in healthcare settings. You can find latex products on ambulances, in hospitals, and in doctors’ offices and clinics. But healthcare is not the only industry that uses latex items. Janitors and housekeepers often use latex gloves when cleaning bathrooms and kitchens, and food service employees sometimes wear them when working with food. Latex can also be found in many household items, including toys, balloons, rubber bands and condoms.
Latex Allergy Can Be Deadly
The problem lies in the proteins in the latex, which can also become airborne. Once they are floating in the air, they can cause breathing problems and contact dermatitis in people with latex allergy. Sometimes that reaction can turn into something more serious, called anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock can kill you if you don’t get immediate medical attention, but ironically, that attention will have to come from someone who may be using latex supplies in their ambulance or emergency room.
You may be allergic to latex if you suffer any of these symptoms while near latex items:
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Tingling sensation in your skin or throat.
High-risk factors for latex allergy include people with spina bifida, or people who are frequently exposed to latex products, such as healthcare workers or people with chronic health problems. If you have a latex allergy, it is vital that you let healthcare workers know BEFORE they start treating you. All hospitals and ambulances carry non-latex items, but they usually won’t use them unless you warn them first..