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Latex is got from the Hevea brasilienis tree sap and is made up of different proteins. The final product suffers processing (coagulation, vulcanization and chemical products addition) that alters its original composition.
Latex is widely used in the medical daily routine: gloves, stickers, catheters, masks, etc.
It is also very used in everyday objects: ballons, toys, balls, bicycle handlebars, shoe soles, tennis racket handles, etc…
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Latex Allergy Symptoms
The most frequent symptoms may be the result of direct contact or inhalation of latex particle. Therefore it may cause urticaria, asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis or anaphylaxis (generalized allergic reaction).
Latex proteins are the culprit of the reactions due to inhaled partiles. If the patient suffers a conctact dermatitis the responsible of the disease are the additives used in the vulcanization industrial process.
At risk people
It has been studied that there are several group of persons with a repeated latex exposure and therefore at higher risk:
- Health workers: surgeons, dentists, nurses.
- Patients with several surgery procedures, like spina bifida patients.
- Workers of Rubber industries.
Patients allergic to latex may show symptoms when eating some vegetal foods, mainly banana, chestnut, kiwi and tropical fruis.
This is known as latex-fruit syndrome. The responsible are common proteins contained in latex and in these fruits and is due to a chemical mechanism called “cross-reactivity”.