Individuals with Spina Bifida can be especially prone to developing allergies to latex due to their weakened immune systems. Knowing the signs and causes of this condition, as well as what can be done to prevent and manage it, is important for keeping those affected by Spina Bifida safe and healthy.
What is Latex Allergy?
Latex allergy is an allergic reaction to proteins present in natural rubber latex and can cause symptoms ranging from mild itching and redness to more serious issues like difficulty breathing, throat tightness, and swelling. People with spina bifida have a higher risk of developing a hypersensitivity or allergy to latex due to their weakened immune system.
What Causes Latex Allergy In People with Spina Bifida?
People with Spina Bifida may be more prone to latex allergies due to their weakened immune system. As these individuals are more exposed to medical equipment and supplies that contain natural rubber latex, they may become sensitised to it due to a heightened exposure. In addition, people with Spina Bifida may experience increased contact with the protease enzymes in the body which can contribute to a higher risk of developing an allergy.
Latex Allergy Symptoms in People with Spina Bifida
People with Spina Bifida may experience various symptoms due to a latex allergy. These reactions will vary in severity and can include redness, itching, swelling, hives or even anaphylaxis. In addition to more classic allergy symptoms, people with Spina Bifida may also experience headaches, fatigue and nausea as part of their reaction to the allergen. It’s important for individuals to get tested if they’re concerned about a possible allergy because early diagnosis can help prevent future allergic reactions from occurring.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Latex Allergy in Spina Bifida
A doctor can diagnose a latex allergy using skin prick testing or blood tests. Once diagnosed, the goal of treatment should be to reduce the occurrence of an allergic reaction. This is usually done through avoidance - meaning staying away from products containing latex - and managing any symptoms experienced when exposed to the allergen with antihistamines or topical corticosteroids. Individuals should also talk to their doctor about carrying epinephrine as part of their treatment plan. An epipen is a lifesaving injection used in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
How Can Latex Allergies Be Managed in People with Spina Bifida?
People with Spina Bifida should speak to their doctor about having a latex allergy management plan. Avoiding products that contain coverings with latex in them is essential. If this is not possible, it could be beneficial to use hypoallergenic products such as vinyl or plastic covers for the body parts affected by the spina bifida condition. Also, avoiding foods that cross-react with latex like avocados, potatoes, celery and kiwi could help lessen reactions. Additionally, individuals may want to look into using a nasal irrigation system to avoid inhaling airborne particles of latex and other allergens.