A person can tell if she is allergic to latex if she experiences allergic reactions after being in contact with latex. Common symptoms include redness, chronic itching, swelling, blisters that secrete a transparent fluid, crusting, and hives. More severe allergic reactions can range from extreme breathing difficulties, a runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, itchy eyes, coughing, and wheezing.
The life-threatening condition anaphylaxis is another sign that a person is allergic to latex. Signs of this condition often include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, swelling, hives, breathing difficulties, a swift decrease in blood pressure, and shock. If anaphylaxis is left untreated, it can result in death. Anyone with signs of anaphylaxis should immediately be taken to the hospital emergency room.
Natural latex is made from a liquid in rubber trees located in Southeast Asia and Africa. This liquid is used to make various rubber products. A sample of items manufactured from latex are rubber toys, rubber bands, diapers, sanitary napkins, condoms, balloons, dishwashing gloves, and other basic household items. Medical and dental gloves, blood pressure cuffs, and other medical materials are also made from latex. Even items such as dolls, elastic waist bands, and television remote controls can all be manufactured from latex.
No one knows exactly what causes someone to develop an allergy to latex, but latex allergies often appear in people who are routinely exposed to latex. For example, those who work in the healthcare and rubber industry fields have a high risk of becoming allergic to the material. People with spina bifida, food allergies, or who have undergone multiple operations can also be highly susceptible to latex allergies. People who suspect they may be allergic to latex should consult their doctor. Medications can be prescribed to alleviate symptoms; however, the best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to refrain from contact with latex.
People allergic to latex should learn which objects in their environment contain latex and find substitutes for those particular items. They should also avoid breathing in latex particles from items such as powdered gloves. It's important that a person allergic to latex wears a medical alert bracelet that warns medical professionals she has this particular condition.
Healthcare workers allergic to latex should only wear non-latex gloves. Co-workers should wear powder-free gloves or non-latex gloves as well. At this time, no medical treatments are able to desensitize people to the effects of latex. If someone experiences a reaction, she is often treated with steroids, antihistamines, and adrenaline.