Latex products - hospital; Latex allergy - hospital; Latex sensitivity - hospital
If you have a latex allergy, your skin or mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose, or other moist areas) react when latex touches them. A severe latex allergy can affect breathing and cause other serious problems.
Latex is made from the sap of rubber trees. It is very strong and stretchy. So it is used in a lot of medical equipment.
Common hospital items that may contain latex include:
Other hospital items may also contain latex.
Over time, frequent contact with latex increases the risk of a latex allergy. People in this group include:
Others who may become allergic to latex are people who are allergic to foods that have the same proteins that are in latex. These foods include bananas, avocado, and chestnuts.
Other foods that are less strongly linked with latex allergy include:
Latex allergy is diagnosed by how you have reacted to latex in the past. If you developed a rash or other symptoms after contact with latex, you are allergic to latex. Allergy skin testing can help diagnose a latex allergy.
A blood test can also be done. If you have latex allergens in your blood, you are allergic to latex. Allergens are substances your body makes to fight off something you are allergic to.
You can have a reaction to latex if your skin, mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, or other moist areas), or bloodstream (during surgery) come into contact with latex. Breathing in the powder on latex gloves can also cause reactions.
Symptoms of latex allergy include:
Signs of a severe allergic reaction often involve more than one body part. Some of the symptoms are:
A severe allergic reaction is an emergency. You must be treated right away.
If you have a latex allergy, avoid items that contain latex. Ask for equipment that is made with vinyl or silicone instead of latex. Other ways to avoid latex while you are in the hospital include asking for:
Pien LC. Latex allergy. In: Cleveland Clinic. Current Clinical Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:section 1.
Reddy S. Latex allergy guidelines. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger & Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010: appendix C.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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