Natural rubber latex is a common ingredient found in many consumer products, such as balloons, balls, appliance cords, hoses, hot water bottles, pacifiers, swimwear, toys, tires, condoms, rubber bands and shoes. Latex also can be found in many medical or dental supplies and devices, such as masks, gloves, syringes, catheters, dressings, tape and bandages.
Unlike some consumer goods made from synthetic (manmade) latex, such as house paint, natural rubber latex is derived from a milky substance found in rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis). While many people come in safe contact with latex-containing products every day, some susceptible individuals have developed hypersensitivity to proteins derived from natural rubber latex, which can cause allergic reactions.
When exposed to latex proteins, a latex-sensitive individual, whether a health care worker or a patient, may experience minor symptoms, such as hives or nasal congestion. Severe cases may result in anaphylaxis, a dangerous systemic reaction that causes a drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, tongue and nose, and even loss of consciousness and could be life-threatening if unattended. Emergency medical attention is needed at the first sign of anaphylactic reaction.
If you are vulnerable to latex or have allergies related to it, please notify our office and, by all means, seek medical attention from your family physician.