Latex Allergy Essay

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Overview

Latex Allergy is a rare allergic reaction that affects a miniscule population of the United States. A latex allergy is usually a response by the immune system to either a protein in latex, or the latex itself. There are three types of latex allergies – two of which are non-life-threatening, and one that is.

Definition and Facts

Natural latex, usually referred to as rubber latex, is a tree-derived, natural rubber substance from the hevea brasiliensis from the Eurphorbiaceae family. Natural latex differs from synthetic latex, as artificial latex does not exhibit the reaction that natural latex does; however, both are referred to synonymously as "latex."

Incidents of latex allergies span up to two-percent of the United States population.
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When exposure to latex occurs, the body 's natural response to the contact triggers chemical releases inside the body to combat the harmless substance. Cases are usually the highest in those who have hypersensitive immune systems. Repeated contact with the rubber can cause a sensitization to one 's body, which can eventually lead to a reaction. Those in the healthcare field of study tend to be more at risk due to possible inhalation and skin contact with latex. Children who have longer surgeries or who routinely need medical treatment tend to have much greater sensitivity to latex as well.

Diagnosis and Tests

There are two methods of diagnosing a person with a latex allergy, via skin test or blood test. The blood test is usually the preferred method as there is no adverse reaction. The doctor extracts a sample of blood, and then the sample is tested for latex antibodies (these are the cells that counteract latex antigens causing allergic reactions). During this test, the doctor will make a prognosis of the patient 's reactivity to latex based on the blood test, the patient 's medical history, and the results of a physical exam.

A skin test is performed by means of a patch that sticks to the skin containing latex. The test is monitored very carefully as the test could render a type I reaction or an anaphylactic shock. If the patient exhibits anaphylaxis then epinephrine, intravenous fluids, and emergency personnel are needed to support the

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