Latex Allergy 101

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Ever since the early '70s, we have been on the universal precautions bandwagon.

First, we introduced latex gloves in the healthcare setting in doctors' offices and in hospitals.

Next, individuals who prepare and serve food in restaurants, cafeterias, etc. also started using latex rubber gloves. So what are the chances you can develop an allergic reaction to latex rubber?

The majority of those affected develop only localized symptoms such as skin irritation and burning, itchiness, redness and/or swelling of the hands or those areas exposed to the latex. Next, are those unlucky allergic people who may have reactions that are more serious and progressive. Higher-risk areas include the dentist's office, operating room or emergency department and gynecologists' offices a• just to name a few. So get a medical identification card and/or bracelet to inform of your latex allergy!

So where else do we see allergic reactions to latex rubber?

What am I seeing in my office? Just the other day, a restaurant owner who supervises food preparation (personally) was exposed to foods and products served by staff who wear latex rubber gloves. When tested, we learned she had become allergic to latex rubber and had two potentially life-threatening reactions as a result of exposure in her own restaurant.

If you are allergic to latex, be aware you may also react to the following foods_ Bananas, avocados, chestnuts, apples, carrots, celery, papayas, kiwi, melons, potatoes and tomatoes.

Finally, defense being your best option, click here for a consumer-friendly list of products that may contain latex rubber.

Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.