Almost ten years ago, I gave my daughter twelve purple latex balloons full of helium on her birthday. I had no problems with balloons at that time. Over the past ten years, I must use latex free products like gloves and bandages.
Latex Allergy Stories
I spent most of my adult life as a Paramedic for an EMS agency. About 20 years ago I started developing these little fluid filled blisters on my hands when wearing latex gloves, they itched something awful and hurt when they broke open. Later, I started developing a rash when wearing gloves. I finally went to my manager and
I learned that I had a severe allergy to Latex when I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2009. Due to all the latex still being used in the hospitals, and the use of it on me, I almost died. My breathing stopped, I turned bright red all over with itchy hives, went into a coma and all my organs started to close down. It turned out that one of chemo drugs I was getting had a latex bottle stopper and I was getting latex with every I.V. My treatment went through 2010 but once we discovered it was the latex stopper, it got preventable.
I first noticed issues with latex when I was in middle school and had to have a band aid from my allergy shots every week. I would get painful welts wherever the band aid adhesive touched my skin. (It’s amazing how many times after that I had to remind the nurse that I was allergic to band aids even after I saw them write it in my chart). Then, in high school, I got job in the food industry. We, like so many places, used latex gloves. My hands would get extremely itchy, red, and develop painful hives. Using nitrile gloves solved that problem.
I found out about my allergy when I made water balloons for my daughters. My eye doctor actually diagnosed my allergy first. It wasn’t until 3 years later when I was in a first aid class for my employer that I realized just how serious my allergy was. I worked for a local school district and the nurses who were giving the class asked if anyone was allergic to latex. I raised my hand and said yes. Their response was okay, we won’t give you any glove. We didn’t really know that the powder would get me. I became the patient in that class.
Around fifteen years ago, at the age of 35, I was faced with having my tonsils taken out. As I was waking up I heard two nurses talking, over the top of me, and saying “What happened to her?” When I was able to talk I asked my husband if they told him anything about latex, he responded with “No!” At that time I brushed it off. Latex allergies was a new concept and many hospitals were still using latex throughout. They knew what happened to me, but to this day I still do not know what they were talking about, sure would like to know so I can stop it from happening again.
When I was a baby, I was allergic to bandaids. I would get a rash after a day or so of having it on my skin. My parents weren’t worried about it since it’s common for babies. Over the years I’d get painful, itchy rashes from things but I couldn’t figure out what they were from. It bugged me but I ignored it.
Ever since I was a kid I couldn’t stand socks, or band aids. One day I was using some gloves, it was a hot day and my arms, hands, and face started swelling. It got so bad that I couldn’t breathe. About three days later my throat was still sore and swelling. My mother took me to the doctor and they diagnosed me with mono, then in about 2 more days it just went away. At that same time I was on the local swim team, with swimsuits that had spandex in them and latex swim caps. Every practice I would have migraines and my face would swell, and I would be crying by the time practice was over.
I’m an EMT and wear gloves quite a bit. I didn’t realize I was allergic to latex until we had several runs in one day and it was very hot. My hands and arms turned red, burnt, and eventually cracked across my hands. After a couple of more days similar to the first day I asked the ER doctor what the problem was. He never thought twice just said “latex allergy”. As I get older it seems to get worse. I have trouble with undergarments, bandages, Halloween glow bracelets etc. anything with the least little amount of latex.
Since it is Latex Allergy Awareness Week, 2012, I thought I would finally share part of my story.