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Information on Latex Allergy

Latex allergy is a fairly common type of allergy as every tenth person is sensitive to latex. The allergy most commonly affects the persons who are repeatedly exposed to latex and it also often affects the infants who suffer from congenital spina bifida. Reactions to latex may range from minor symptoms such as skin rashes all the way to seriously severe life threatening medical conditions such as anaphylactic shock. There is no cure for latex allergy so avoidance of exposure is the only way of protection. Latex products can be replaced by their synthetic alternatives. Some hospitals even go that far to introduce latex safe environments for those who suffer from latex allergies. The first documented case of latex allergy occurred in 1979, and there were 15 cases of fatal outcome.

Latex Exposure

The exposure to latex may occur by means of direct contact with the bloodstream, mucous membranes and the skin, but it can also be inhaled in the form of particles. The most serious reactions affiliated with latex allergies are commonly connected with parenteral exposures which involve the direct contact of latex with the bloodstream. Latex particles can be inhaled when their proteins get combined with the powder from the gloves so they form aerosolized particles together. When the particles enter the human body they get absorbed and trigger an allergic reaction.

Latex Allergy Immune Response

Latex allergy is actually an immune response to the proteins contained in the natural rubber latex. Latex contains more than 200 different types of proteins and of all them there are at least 50 which can be associated with allergic reactions. The first exposure may sometimes be asymptomatic with no specific symptoms. The immune response involves the release of immunoglobulin which is an antibody whose purpose is to fight the harmful proteins. Each subsequent exposure to latex is commonly more and more severe in terms of symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Latex Allergy

The most common symptom of latex allergy is the irritant contact dermatitis which is an inflammatory condition of the skin. Another common symptom of latex allergy is the allergic contact dermatitis which can be characterized by skin rashes and oozing blisters. A person may also experience a medical condition known as the hypersensitivity immune system response. The most severe of all the symptoms which can be associated with the latex allergy is the anaphylactic shock. It may even be fatal in some cases. It can be characterized by nausea, fainting, abdominal pain, drop in blood pressure, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and generalized hives. All cases of anaphylactic shock require immediate medical attention.

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