An individual with a latex allergy experiences symptoms ranging from itching, sneezing and wheezing to the inability to breathe and loss of consciousness after touching latex-containing products or inhaling latex particles, according to Mayo Clinic. Because the immune system becomes sensitized with repeated exposure to latex, the allergic reaction symptoms can worsen over time and, in severe cases, result in life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
When individuals with latex sensitivities touch products made of natural rubber, such as condoms, balloons or gloves, or inhale airborne particles, the immune system releases histamine into the bloodstream in reaction to the latex proteins, explains Mayo Clinic. Redness and rash on the skin are initial mild symptoms that can progress to more moderate reactions, including coughing, itchy eyes and runny nose. Highly sensitive individuals repeatedly exposed to latex may experience anaphylactic reactions that include changes in pulse rate, a drop in blood pressure, dizziness and vomiting.
Health care workers and individuals who receive frequent medical treatments are at high risk for latex allergies due to the repeated exposure to gloves, notes Mayo Clinic. Some foods share the same allergens as latex, so individuals who react to natural rubber products tend to be allergic to bananas and avocados. Synthetic products, such as latex paint, do not contain the allergy-triggering proteins found in the fluid from rubber trees and typically do not cause reactions in individuals with latex sensitivities.