This type of sensitivity is triggered by a protein in latex rubber, a naturally-occurring liquid that is extracted from trees. Products that contain latex and are a potential cause of the symptoms associated with latex sensitivity include toys made from rubber, balloons, rubber gloves, bandages, catheters and condoms. For example, sensitivity can be caused by latex coming into contact with the skin or by inhaling airborne latex particles resulting from removal of latex gloves.
The symptoms of latex sensitivity can vary from one person to another. Latex can cause a number of different reactions and the degree of severity of these reactions can range from a mild itch to serious anaphylactic shock. Once a latex sensitivity has developed, it can become gradually worse over time. Anyone who suspects that he may have a latex sensitivity should see a doctor for assessment.
Mild Symptoms of Latex Sensitivity
The level of severity of a person's reaction to latex can range from a mild sensitivity to a serious allergy. Mild symptoms include slight rash, itching and red, sore hands. Skin may begin to weep and bumps or cracks may appear if symptoms become more severe. In mild cases, these symptoms appear gradually, usually over a number of days, and worsen over time. Slightly more severe symptoms may include coughing and a runny rose. A person may develop a latex sensitivity through repeated exposure on a regular basis; continued exposure once a person has become sensitized can lead to a latex allergy.
Serious Allergic Reactions
A serious latex allergy can cause severe, potentially life-threatening symptoms. This reaction is known as anaphylactic shock and can feature symptoms such as vomiting, change of pulse, unconsciousness, dizziness, wheezing, diarrhea and difficulty breathing. An anaphylactic reaction only occurs in people who are extremely sensitive to latex. Other serious symptoms in those who have a severe sensitivity to latex include angioedema, a swelling below the surface of the skin. Severe reactions to latex occur very quickly after contact with latex. This may happen after a few minutes and usually occurs in less than two hours.
Those at Risk
Although anyone can develop latex sensitivity, some people are more likely to develop the condition than others. Because continual contact with latex can cause sensitivity, people who work with latex a great deal are at a higher risk. This puts health care workers and people who work in rubber factories, for example, at greater risk. Constant exposure to latex can also cause existing sensitivities to worsen. Other people with a higher-than-average risk of developing a latex sensitivity include people with a history of other allergies, people who have had a number of surgical procedures in the past, for example spina bifida.
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