Information on Latex Allergies

By: peterhutch
Latex is a milky fluid produced by rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis). Using different methods, latex can be processed into a variety of products, such as gloves and balloons. During manufacturing, chemicals are added to increase the speed of curing (vulcanization) and to protect the rubber from oxygen in the air.

Latex allergies can be - inconvenient, to say the least - especially since so many products contain it. Medical and dental equipment, pencil erasers, sanitary napkins, pacifiers, rubber bands, condoms and many other everyday products can contain latex, creating a hostile environment to those with sensitivity to the material. This also includes those working in the body art industry and those that patronize such establishments because of the gloves worn in accordance with Universal Precautions.

It's also possible for people to develop a latex allergy from condoms. Not only can this interrupt a couples most intimate moments, but it's also a serious berth control issue. Signs and symptoms of latex allergy include the outbreak of a rash or hives in the affect area. This can be followed by tightness in the throat, followed by difficulties in breathing and wheezing. If it's serous enough these breathing difficulties can result in death. Because of these severe symptoms, it's important to see your doctor if think you may be allergic to latex.

For people with a latex glove allergies or latex allergies the smallest amount of latex that the body gets in contact with can be enough to cause extreme effects. Rubber products can be dusted with talcum powder or corn starch and this powder spreads particles of rubber through the air. This shows that it is not necessary for the body to actually touch the rubber product for it to cause extreme symptoms.

Latex allergy develops in some individuals after repeated exposure to products containing natural rubber latex. As is the cause in any allergy, a latex allergy arises when an individual's immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance (called an allergen). In this case, the immune system overreacts when a dental device or supply that contains latex - such as gloves -- comes into contact with the mucous membranes (the eyes, nose, or mouth) of a susceptible individual.

Allergy to natural rubber latex is increasingly common and serious in children and adults. Latex is the milky fluid derived from the lactiferous cells of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. It is composed primarily of cis-1,4-polyisoprene, a benign organic polymer that confers most of the strength and elasticity of latex. It also contains a large variety of sugars, lipids, nucleic acids, and highly allergenic proteins.

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system produces antibodies and other disease fighting cells in response to an allergen, in this case latex. The antibodies release chemicals that actually injure the surrounding cells and cause the physical symptoms of an allergic reaction. Certain antibodies release histamines, which affect the skin, mucous membrane, mucous gland, and smooth muscle cells. Life-threatening allergic reactions can occur without any previous symptoms of allergy. The type of thin, highly stretchy rubber found in gloves, rubber bands, condoms, balloons, and pacifiers, to name a few, are the most common sources of latex allergy.

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