Experts think latex allergies could be common for up to 73 percent of those with spina bifida.
No one knows why people are allergic to latex. Some experts think it's because people have too much contact with it. People with spina bifida that have or have had shunts, other allergies and a lot of surgeries may be at more risk than others. Latex allergies are not specific to spina bifida and can be a problem for anyone else who has a lot of contact with it.
Latex allergy is not fully understood. Experts are still learning what proteins cause it.
Check labels to ensure they do not have natural latex rubber in them.
Signs of an allergic reaction include:
watery and itchy eyes;
- sneezing and coughing;
- rash or hives;
- swelling of the windpipe;
- a hard time breathing;
- life-threatening collapse of blood circulation
The only way to not have a latex reaction is to avoid things with latex or latex-contaminated powder. Contact occurs when latex touches the skin, mouth, eyes, genital areas or bladder. Severe reactions can take place if latex enters the bloodstream. Powder from latex balloons or gloves can get into the air. This is a problem when breathed or touched by a person who is allergic. Food touched by people wearing latex gloves might have this powder on it. (People allergic to latex may also be allergic to some fruits and vegetables.)
Steps to take
Avoid latex products right from birth. Things made of silicone, plastic, nitrile or vinyl can be used instead.
Those who had a reaction to latex should:
- wear a medic-alert bracelet or necklace;
- carry auto-injectable epinephrine;
- carry sterile non-latex gloves and other non-latex medical items for emergencies
Discuss latex allergy and avoidance with health care providers, schools, pre-schools, visitors and anyone else who is involved with the person who is allergic.
Talk to health care providers before hospitalisation or surgery to prevent accidents and for latex-safe care.
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