Latex is a natural rubber derived from the rubber plant (Hevea Brasiliensis) and allergic reactions to it have been well documented for quite some time. Healthcare workers who were in repeated contact with products containing latex, were the first wave of patients exhibiting reactions to this substance. Studies show that up to 25% of individuals who regularly come in contact with latex will eventually suffer from sensitization, be it from inhalation or exposure through the skin. It has become a very common allergy since there are more than 40,000 products (from children’s toys to workplace items) made from latex, making overexposure a daily occurrence. Common latex allergy symptoms are hives, tissue swelling, generalized itching, watery eyes, wheezing and a drop in blood pressure. In extreme cases, a reaction can lead to anaphylaxis.
At least 13 different proteins with allergenic potential have been identified as the most likely cause of the reactions. Originally, these proteins are present to defend the rubber plant from colonization by fungi and other organisms. This type of defense system is quite common in plants and is shared by many other species including those consumed as food by humans.
When a latex sensitive individual is exposed to these foods, he will react as if exposed to latex itself even when the origin of the offending allergen (the food in question) is not directly related to latex. This phenomenon is called cross-reactivity and it arises when two allergens of different origin structurally resemble each other enough to elicit a reaction in sensitive individuals. Latex sensitive patients then experience what has been called the latex-fruit syndrome.
There are some foods that have been found to be particularly problematic, and they are currently classified according to the severity of the reaction. Thankfully, not everyone with a latex allergy will consistently react to all the foods on the list. Allergic reactions are notoriously unpredictable and vary in intensity and frequency. However, most doctors recommend caution for those with a recognized sensitivity since prolonged and repeated exposure could lead to a more serious case of anaphylaxis.
High Degree of Reactivity
Moderate Degree of Reactivity
Low Degree of Reactivity
- Sunflower seeds