Latex can act as potential threat not just to health workers but multiple other occupational workers like those working in hair salons, food warehouses, laundromats, toy factories, glove manufacturing units, laboratories and even affect in day to day domestic settings while dishwashing etcetera. Latex in itself has an organic origin and is extracted from trees, shrubs but the addition of certain chemicals like mercaptobenzothiazole, thiurams and carbamates with the intent of making it a stronger, stretchable and durable product acts as the hazard or in other words primary source of the allergic reactions (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2018).
Research has also found that nearly 50% of the people having Latex Allergy can also have allergies to food items like tomatoes, avocados, nuts, bananas (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 2018). Allergy to latex can be either triggered by direct contact of latex with skin or indirect contact through inhaling airborne latex particles. Symptoms can range from rashes, blisters to runny nose, itchy eyes and throat. Asthmatic symptoms like coughing, wheezing can also be encountered in some. Severe reactions can lead to swelling of lips, face and the airways (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,2014).
The good news is that we can avoid it by replacing latex in settings to non-latex products (vinyl or synthetic). Other precautions include handwashing after glove removal, vacuum to clear dust and periodic screening for allergies.
Having awareness around the fact that repeated exposures can worsen the severity of episodes and cautiously carrying epinephrine pens to avoid any emergency episodes might be some other helpful tools. Important message here is to let your doctor know before a procedure (if you are sensitive) and consult an allergist or immunologist for an expert advise. Go latex-free and keep safe!!
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Submitted by Priyanka Bhat