Food Allergies & Symptoms

Food Allergies

There are some foods that can cause cross reactions because the proteins in the food are similar to one or more of the proteins found in latex. These primarily include bananas, kiwi, avocados, chestnuts and mangos, although some studies are showing that there may be others. If a person is already allergic to one or more of these foods, the chance of developing a latex allergy increases. However, not everyone with a latex allergy has food allergies. Natural rubber latex contains over 200 proteins, of which 50 to 60 are known to cause reactions (Rolland & O'Hehir, 2008). Different people can be sensitized to different combinations of proteins. Studies have also shown that people allergic to latex may react to foods prepared by someone wearing latex gloves (Ameratunga, Ameratunga, Crooks, & Simmons, 2008).

What are the Symptoms of Latex Allergy?

General symptoms of latex allergy:

There are three general types of reactions associated with latex allergy, although they won't manifest the same way in everyone since people may not react to the same proteins.

1. Contact dermatitis is irritation at the site of contact caused by the powder added to gloves. Powdered gloves have an irritating alkaline pH, whereas powder-free gloves have a lower pH that is closer to that of skin. Studies have shown that an alkaline skin surface lasts long after the removal of powdered gloves. Dermatitis can also be caused by sweat on the hands while they're covered by gloves, and "mechanical" irritation from the powder rubbing on the skin. Usual symptoms include redness, scaling, and itching that disappear when the source is removed. This is not a latex allergy since it is not an immunological reaction and is not related to the latex proteins.

2. Type IV hypersensitivity is a cell-mediated allergic reaction to the chemicals (mostly accelerators) used in processing, but not to the latex itself. These chemicals can be airborne by the powder used in gloves. Thiurams have been identified as the main source of reaction, but as this chemical is no longer used by most manufacturers, the incidence of this type of reaction may start to decrease. The reaction is delayed for 24 to 48 hours after exposure and includes redness, itching, localized swelling, hives, red and itchy eyes, runny nose, and coughing. Repeated exposure causes the symptoms to arise faster and persist longer. Often, symptoms occur at work and disappear at home. While this is not a reaction to latex either, it does predispose the person to progressing to a true latex allergy.

3. Type I hypersensitivity is an immediate IgE-mediated response that can be life threatening. This is a true latex allergy, caused by histamine release upon exposure to latex. Latex proteins bind to glove powder and become aeroallergens when the powder is released, thus inducing respiratory symptoms as well as skin reactions. Glove powder has been found in the air for up to 12 hours after release, so a sensitized person can react hours after the actual gloves were used. The latex proteins are also water-soluble and are easily absorbed through the skin. It's estimated that 16.9% of all anaphylactic reactions during surgery are related to latex allergy (Reisacher, 2008). These reactions are frequently termed "anesthesia accidents." The risk of anaphylaxis caused by latex allergy is even higher in children with spina bifida. Symptoms of a Type I reaction include difficulty breathing (from bronchospasm or airway swelling), increased heart rate, hypotension, hives, nausea or abdominal cramping, dizziness, or respiratory and/or cardiac arrest. Chronic asthma is also a frequent result of Type I hypersensitivity.

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