Allergies can develop over time. People may also be born with certain allergies. One of the most common allergies in the health care industry is to latex. As the latex allergy statistics show, exposure to this substance is definitely part of the problem. Health care workers are up to 17x more likely than the general population to have a latex allergy.
Facts About Latex Allergies
1. Up to 17% of health care workers have a latex allergy. In the general population, only 1% of people have a latex allergy.
2. Up to 68% of children who are born with spina bifida have an allergy to latex. It is believed that this is because of the chances of experiencing multiple surgeries. Some statistics put the figure at 10 surgeries before risks increase, but no data is confirmed.
3. Anyone who has a surgery completed where the physician uses latex gloves will have a higher risk of developing the allergy than before they had the procedure completed.
4. 3 million. That’s the estimated number of people in the US who have a latex allergy of some sort right now.
5. At least 7.7 million people are employed in the growing health care industry.
6. If only one parent has allergies of any type, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have an allergy.
7. When both parents have an allergy, there is a 70% chance that their children will also have allergies develop.
8. Allergies strike 1 in 5 Americans. Allergy prevalence overall has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups.
9. Allergies that include latex are the 5th most common chronic disease in the United States right now.
10. 4% of allergy sufferers have latex allergy as their primary allergy.
11. 10 deaths each year are due to severe reactions to latex allergy.
12. $14.5 billion. That’s the annual cost to treat all allergies in the US. The direct treatment costs of latex allergies as a primary chronic issue are just under $600 million annually.
13. 15% of the total costs that are attributed to latex allergies come from indirect costs, such as missing school or work, reduced productivity, or disability.
14. Between 1988-1992, the FDA received more than 1,000 reports of adverse health effects from exposure to latex.
15. It may take up to 3 days for an allergic reaction to cause physical symptoms after being exposed to the rubber proteins.
16. Anaphylaxis and severe asthmatic reactions have been caused by inhaling latex proteins in the air.
17. The statistics for latex allergy development are at least 10 years old.
18. There are over 50,000 products manufactured for medical use that contain some amount of latex.
19. Most restaurants throughout the United States use Latex gloves to prepare their food. All it takes for a latex allergy to occur is contact with the rubber glove to transfer latex proteins.
Why are the risks for a latex allergy so much higher for health care workers? It is because there is a lack of awareness of latex exposure. For many years and even still today, some facilities believe that latex exposure only happens upon direct contact with the material. Latex allergies, however, can be triggered by inhaling the dust that is on the gloves. This means health care facilities that use latex products are exposing people to the proteins that cause allergies every day.
Every exposure increases a person’s risk of allergy development. That’s why knowing the facts about latex allergies is so important.
Who Is Most At Risk For Latex Allergy Development?
Anyone who already has an allergy is susceptible to the development of a latex allergy. Because the rubber in the latex contains proteins that can be found in many of the fruits that are in the global diet, the consistent exposure helps to set the stage for a latex allergy forming. People who have allergies to bananas, melons, and avocados are at the highest risk of the cross-allergy development. Chestnuts, kiwi fruits, peaches, and tomatoes also have higher latex allergy development risks when food allergies to them are present.
People who have eczema are also at a greater risk of developing a rubber latex allergy. This is especially true when eczema is present on the hand when it is exposed.
As with most allergies, a latex allergy may cause a rash, hives, or may progress to breathing problems. Treat the allergic reaction and immediately and seek professional medical help any time a severe allergic reaction is suspected. Use non-latex gloves whenever possible and speak with your dentist, hairdresser, or masseuse about using non-latex gloves when working with you as well. Once a latex allergy develops, all rubber products should be completely avoided.