Latex-Fruit Syndrome

A latex food allergy is an allergic reaction to products made from natural rubber latex and synthetic rubber. Natural rubber latex is a milky sap found in the rubber tree of Africa and Southeast Asia that is most commonly used to make rubber gloves, condoms, and balloons. It is estimated that 20-60% of people who are allergic to latex will also have an allergic reaction to fruit (Blanco, 2000). This phenomenon is called “latex-fruit syndrome.” In latex-fruit syndrome, like oral allergy syndrome, the body’s immune system has a cross-reaction between latex and certain foods, most often fresh fruits.

A cross-reaction means the body can’t tell the difference between latex and a fresh fruit, so it reacts to the fruit like it is latex.

What allergy symptoms are caused by latex-fruit syndrome?

Latex-fruit syndrome reactions can range from mild oral allergy syndrome symptoms to a severe anaphylactic reaction. According to the American Latex Allergy Association latex allergy “symptoms can include hives or welts, swelling of the affected area, runny nose, sneezing, headache, reddened itchy or teary eyes, sore throat or hoarse voice, abdominal cramps, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath, anaphylaxis.” Unlike oral allergy syndrome, latex-fruit syndrome has a significant chance of producing an anaphylactic reaction.

Which foods have cross-reactions with latex?

Cross-reactions between latex and foods (especially fruits) can occur due to something known as oral allergy syndrome. With oral allergy syndrome you may experience an itchy mouth after eating raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts. If you have a latex-fruit syndrome you may experience cross-reactions with one or more of these foods:  avocado, banana, bell pepper, chestnut, fig, kiwi, peach, tomato, and white potato. (To see a detailed oral allergy syndrome food list please click here).

How is latex-fruit syndrome diagnosed?

The diagnosis of latex-fruit syndrome can be done by an allergist. Many times a medical history of trigger fruits and history of a latex allergy can be sufficient for diagnosis. Though, a skin allergy test is the best diagnostic test with an 80% accuracy rate for diagnosis (Blanco, 2000).

How is latex-fruit syndrome treated?

Some people may notice less symptoms when the food or fruit is cooked but due to the possibility of anaphylaxis the best treatment is to avoid the trigger fruit altogether.

References

Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition. Click here to read the full disclaimer.
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