Anaphylaxis is a term that refers to a group of allergic reactions occurring in response to certain foods, latex, medicines and insect bites. These are ‘skin contact’ allergies. anaphylactic shock is the extreme form of anaphylaxis, in which the allergic person’s throat swells in reaction to the allergen. Persons with extreme tree nut allergies must be be particularly careful to avoid anaphylactic shock. Persons allergic to insect stings must keep a bee sting ‘Epipen’ (epinephrine auto-injector) with them to prevent anaphylactic shock in case of stings.
Not all latex allergies are anaphylactic allergies. We are discovering that if you have latex anaphylaxis allergy, you may also be allergic to certain fruits which contain similar proteins to those of the rubber plant from which latex is made. Tropical fruits, such as papaya, avocado, banana, passion fruit, fig, melon, mango, kiwi, pineapple, are related to the rubber plant in terms of chemical structure. Hence these fruits also cause similar allergic reactions as those of latex. Chestnuts, peaches and tomatoes can produce similar reactions to latex as well.
How is a latex anaphylaxis allergy recognized? Typically the first sign is hives; an itchy rash that forms under stress or in reaction to an allergic stimulus. If the latex allergy is an anaphylactic allergy, persons may notice swelling at the point which they came in contact with the allergen. Swelling in the throat may occur after eating the above named fruits, as well as cramping, diarrhea and vomiting as the body seeks to rid itself of the offending allergen. In a severe allergy, fainting, followed by the afore mentioned anaphylactic shock may occur. This can be deadly.
Why the increase in latex allergies? Since the discovery of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, we’ve seen a huge increase in the use of latex products. Hospital workers use latex gloves far more frequently, to prevent the spread of infection. The use of condoms, made from latex, to prevent STDS and HIV/AIDS transmission is increasing also. Balloons are another common product made from latex.
If you have or think you may have a latex allergy, you will want to avoid the above named products or look for latex-free varieties. If you work with latex products, such as gloves, ask to be issued latex-free gloves instead. You’ll want to avoid eating the fruits listed above, also.