Latex Allergy: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Latex is a natural rubber made from a type of tree. Some people have allergic reactions after contact with things made of latex, such as latex gloves. In an allergic reaction, your immune system starts fighting a substance that is normally harmless, such as latex, as though it were trying to harm the body.

Latex allergies may cause mild symptoms, such as a rash on the skin. Severe reactions to latex are more serious. They need to be treated right away. They can cause trouble breathing and can even be life-threatening.

The best way to manage your latex allergy is to avoid products that have latex. Make sure that you know what to do if you have an allergic reaction to latex. Have the recommended medicines available.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Avoid products that contain latex. These products may include:
    • Contraceptives, such as condoms or diaphragms.
    • Diapers and sanitary pads.
    • Pacifiers and baby bottle nipples.
    • Balloons and rubber toys.
    • Rubber bands.
    • Computer mouse pads.
    • Medical items, such as gloves, drains, tourniquets, urinary catheters, wraps, and adhesives used for bandages and tapes.
  • Always tell your health care providers that you have a latex allergy.
  • Use an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin), to treat mild symptoms. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Mild symptoms include sneezing or an itchy or runny nose; an itchy mouth; a few hives or mild itching; and mild nausea or stomach discomfort.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine to carry with you in case you have a severe reaction. Learn how to give yourself the shot, and keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired.
  • Wear medical alert jewellery that lists your allergies. You can buy this at most drugstores.

When should you call for help?

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think you are having a severe allergic reaction.
  • You have symptoms in more than one body area, such as mild nausea and an itchy mouth.

After giving an epinephrine shot call 911, even if you feel better.

Call 911 if:

  • You have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
  • You have been given an epinephrine shot, even if you feel better.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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