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Latex allergy is a reaction to proteins from the Havea brasiliensis rubber tree sap, the milky fluid used to manufacture more than 40,000 products including household and medical devices.
People with latex allergy often develop symptoms due to repeated use of latex gloves, helium balloons, condoms, or medical devices like catheters, wound drains or rubber tubing. People with latex allergies may also experience a reaction to certain foods, such as avocados, bananas, chestnuts and kiwi fruit, because these foods have similar protein structure to the rubber tree.
Latex allergy can cause hives, cramps, intense itching, sneezing and watery eyes. In rare cases, it causes chest pain, rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, lowered blood pressure, or anaphylaxis. In these cases, emergency medical attention with an epinephrine auto-injector may be necessary.
There is no cure for latex allergies. The only way for people with latex allergy to prevent symptoms is to avoid latex. Limit exposure to latex products. Check labels or contact the manufacturer of a product to ensure it’s latex-safe. Wear a medical ID bracelet in case an accidental exposure results in emergency care.
For more information on Latex Allergy, see our full article.