So in the first part of this blog we addressed allergy and latex allergy and how the body recognizes foreign proteins and mounts an attack against them creating allergic symptoms. Ending the blog we discussed T-cell activity which carries a picture of this foreign protein and in the case of allergy inappropriately recognizes it as a threat. The T-cells cause allergic symptoms to appear in the tissues, such as rash, redness, running nose, itchy eyes, among other symptoms. Sometimes this is the only type of reaction that will occur in the presence of a foreign protein. These are called localized reactions.
Systemic (whole body reactions) occur when the body ramps up it attack against the foreign protein. This is when allergy takes a debilitating and/or deadly course. When the allergy becomes systemic B-cells get involved. As we discussed in part one, the T-cells created a picture of the chemical makeup of the foreign protein to recognize it in future exposures. What happens now is the T-cells pass it on. They slap this picture of the foreign protein on the surface of the B-cell, so that they now recognize the protein. Activation of the B-cells generates the immune mediated response of the immunoglobulins, specifically immunoglobulin E (IGE), hence, the immune mediated attack that was discussed in the previous blog.
This is where people have respiratory difficulty, cardiac compromise, severe swelling that closes off airways. This is when an allergic response requires the use of epi (epinephrine) pens, hospital administered epinephrine, steroids, and other life saving maneuvers. Essentially this is what motivates a person to seek medical attention.
So now you have a very basic understanding of allergy. Now lets turn our attention to Latex allergy itself. Do you really have it?
Anyone can be allergic to anything at any time. If you believe you have an allergy stick to your guns and make sure you communicate it to others. But also do your homework. Understanding the allergy that you have been diagnosed with is key to managing it. It is important to keep in mind when health care professionals many times explain something away as being an allergy when they really do not know what caused a response. I emphasize again, saying you have a latex allergy, or a certain drug allergy without doing your due diligence to understand allergies can place you at risk when life saving medications or equipment will not be employed due to you stating you have an allergy. If you have it by all means make sure you tell everybody, family, friends, co-workers, and especially health care professionals including dental professionals. If you believe you have it and are wrong still communicate it. The reason I am stating the above is due to the fact that many other substances may be the trigger for the allergy even if you have come into contact with latex products. Seek out an allergist who is experienced in latex allergy and above all get tested.
So no one ever heard of a latex allergy years ago. I mean you’ve heard of penicillin allergies and peanut allergies, but latex? All of a sudden it appeared out of the blue. Health care professionals did not take it very seriously at first because of its sudden appearance. So what happened? Why did it suddenly become a diagnosis? Find out in Part 3.