With all the new products hitting the market, it’s hard to tell what is real and fake. With the health issues and chemicals in mattresses, beddings, pillows, and more: you don’t know if they are safe or not. Is your mattress contributing to latex allergy? A latex mattress can result in allergies.
Learn more about latex allergies
What is Latex?
Latex is a natural rubber produced from the sap of the rubber tree. It has been used for thousands of years as a raw material for making clothing, footwear, and medical products.
The word latex comes from the Latin word for “glue” because it is sticky when wet.
Natural rubber latex is made from the milky white liquid called latex that drips from incisions made in the tree’s bark. After making the incision, workers collect the latex in buckets and allow it to dry on sheets of cloth or plastic. Once dried, latex becomes tacky and sticky, but it must be heated or chemically treated before it can be used to make products.
Natural rubber is a very strong material with excellent insulating properties, and it also absorbs sound well and has good resistance to wear and tear under normal conditions. However, natural rubber tends to be brittle at low temperatures and does not stretch easily like many synthetic rubbers, so it often needs to be combined with other types of rubbers for use in products.
Types of Latex Mattress Allergies
The following are some of the latex allergies:
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is a skin allergy that results from exposure to an irritant. The most common irritants in latex mattress production are solvents, glues, and adhesives. Irritant contact dermatitis can occur in workers with direct or indirect exposure to latex products, including those who manufacture latex gloves or condoms.
ICD symptoms include dryness, cracking, itching, and redness of the skin at the site of contact with an irritant substance. As a result of the inflammation of the skin, ICD may cause swelling and blistering of the affected area.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) occurs when your body’s immune system reacts to an allergen by producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). ACD is characterized by inflammation at the contact site between IgE antibodies and an antigen (a substance that stimulates an immune response). As this process continues, it causes further irritation and damage to your skin’s nerve endings.
Immediate Allergic Reaction
Immediate allergic reactions usually occur within minutes after exposure to the allergen. These reactions include hives, swelling of the lips and face, difficulty breathing (shortness of breath), vomiting, and diarrhea. Anaphylaxis — a severe systemic reaction that affects multiple body systems — occurs in less than 1 percent of latex allergy sufferers. This life-threatening condition requires emergency medical treatment with epinephrine (adrenaline) because it can quickly progress into shock, a serious drop in blood pressure, which may lead to death.
The 4 Signs and Symptoms of a Latex Allergy
The symptoms of a latex allergy can vary from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms you should look out for if you suspect that you’re allergic to latex. Here are some of the signs:
The most common symptom of a latex allergy is sneezing. This is because the body’s immune system sends out antibodies in response to the allergen, which causes your nose to run and causes you to sneeze in an attempt to clear your nasal passages. Allergic reactions can result in sneezing fits lasting up to an hour or more.
2. Runny nose
Sneezing may be the most common symptom of a latex allergy, but it’s not the only one; many people with a latex allergy also experience runny noses. The runny nose associated with latex allergies is usually caused by mucus production rather than infection; however, if your runny nose isn’t accompanied by other symptoms, such as watery eyes or itching around the eyes and face, then it may be caused by an infection instead of an allergy.
3. Itchy, watery eyes
The most common symptom of latex allergy is itchy eyes or an uncomfortable feeling in your eyes. You may also notice swelling around your eyelids or redness of the white part of your eyes (the conjunctiva). These symptoms can occur minutes after exposure to latex or several hours later.
4. Scratchy throat
You may feel a scratchy throat when exposed to latex. This is caused by swelling of the membranes that line your windpipe (trachea) and lungs (bronchial tubes). Symptoms include coughing and wheezing after exposure to latex gloves or balloons filled with air from the lungs (aspirated air).
What is the Treatment for a Latex Allergy?
If you are at risk of a severe allergic reaction, your doctor can prescribe an auto-injector that contains epinephrine. This device is designed to be used in an emergency and will stop the reaction by relaxing your airways and reducing swelling.
If you suffer from a latex allergy, you must always carry an auto-injector. This will ensure that you can access the medication when you need it most.
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How to Prevent Latex Allergy?
If you have a latex allergy and have to use a product containing latex (such as gloves or mattresses), wear non-latex gloves or use polyurethane condoms. Avoid products that contain powdered latex (rubber) gloves, such as powdered rubber cement.
Tell your doctor about any allergies you have before receiving medical care from a doctor or dentist who uses latex gloves or other items that contain latex.
Ask your doctor if you’re undergoing surgery and whether there’s any risk of contracting latex during the procedure. If there is a risk, your doctor may suggest taking antihistamines before the surgery to help prevent reactions if you’re exposed to latex.
If you’re beginning to experience an allergic reaction to your latex mattress, check the tag or consult your mattress seller as soon as possible! The materials used in the top layer greatly affect how responsive a mattress is to your body’s temperature and moisture levels. So if you choose a more breathable, moisture-wicking material like natural latex, the chances of experiencing an allergic reaction are relatively low.
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