Latex Allergy: Recognition and Management of a Modern Problem

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Within the past decade, anaphylaxis from latex products has been a recognized clinical crisis. Immediately after contact with latex, the patient can experience urticaria, nasorhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, hypotension, and shock. Health care workers, children with spina bifida, patients with a history of urogenital procedures, and employees of rubber manufacturing plants have the highest incidence. The most common denominators include frequent contact with latex and a history of allergies, although cases without these components have been reported. The increased incidence is linked to the increase of glove and condom use In preventing the spread of the HIV virus. Sensitization to the natural rubber protein is the allergen, although the specific protein has not been Isolated. A thorough medical and surgical history and a history of previous allergies and allergic events should be collected on all patients with complaints of any latex contact symptoms. Latex-sensitive patients should wear a Medic AlertTM bracelet and carry an epinephrine autoinjector kit. Health care providers must be alert for the possible occurrence of latex sensitivities in their patients.

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