While only slightly less than one percent of Americans suffer from latex allergies, latex allergies are becoming more common, as are products that contain latex. Healthcare workers, people who have frequent surgeries and those who have spina bifida are at a higher risk of having a latex allergy.
What is latex exactly? Latex is a sap taken from the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. It can also be found in the form of natural latex rubber and is used to make many common household and medical products, such as plastic bags and rubber gloves.
People who suffer from latex allergies need to be particularly careful when visiting doctors’ offices and hospitals, since a lot of supplies used in the medical field contain latex. The list of items that people with latex allergies should avoid ranges anywhere from balloons to band-aids and so much more. Symptoms of a latex allergy may include, but are not limited to:
- Blood pressure problems
But how exactly can latex allergies affect people with food allergies? Similar proteins can be found in latex and in certain foods, causing cross-reactivity. This means that if a person who has a latex allergy eats a food that tends to cross-react with latex, they could have an allergic reaction. This is also referred to as latex food syndrome. The foods likely to cause cross-reactivity have been divided into three groups: high, moderate, and low or undetermined.
Foods on the high list (those most likely to cause a reaction) are:
The moderate list includes:
Finally, those on the low or undetermined list (least likely to cause a reaction) include:
- Castor Bean
- Cayenne Pepper
- Chick Pea
- Citrus Fruits
- Passion Fruit
- Sunflower Seed
- Sweet Pepper
The above is a list of foods that have been known to cross react with latex. There may be other foods that cross react but are not on this list. If you suspect that you have a latex allergy, or have already been diagnosed with one, please use caution before eating anything that may cause a cross-reaction.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recommends that latex allergy sufferers have epinephrine handy when trying new fruits and vegetables. Avoidance is the safest precaution to take until you discuss it further with your doctor or allergist. And as with all allergies, read labels carefully, both on food and non-food items. The AAFA also advises to keep in mind that the phrase “hypo-allergenic” doesn’t necessarily mean that something is latex-free.
We would love to hear from our followers on this subject. Do you, your children or anyone you know have a latex allergy? Do you know of anyone that has a latex allergy and has had a cross-reaction to any foods? Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below.