I live in the southeastern US, in the state of Georgia. I’ve been allergic to latex since the mid-1990s, and I’ve unsuccessfully tried to avoid exposure ever since.
I have had reactions in churches, car dealerships, general stores, grocery stores, hotels, craft stores, malls, post offices, office buildings, public event arenas, park and rest stop bathrooms, and other people’s cars, to name a few.
As a person who is fairly reactive to balloons (there are so many stores I can’t go into because of them) and powdered latex gloves (there are hotels and other venues that use powdered latex gloves to clean bathrooms and the like — I recently had to cancel going to a large meeting because the hotel ordered “lightly powdered” latex gloves last month), I invariably encounter a lot of ignorance about natural rubber latex allergy when I make inquiries.
I’m looking for pointers and ideas about community education campaigns. I’ve written letters to various stores and other places, but mostly I make phone calls when I have the energy.
Is there anyone who has the time and expertise to share information with local volunteers who want to make an impact on public education? We desperately need an effort here.
I contracted my latex allergy from living with my ex-husband who is a surgeon.
For years I had been exposed to the dust from his theatre gloves and I ingested it and it manifested as anaphylaxis when I ate fruit which has the latex proteins. Unfortunately I did not make the connection as I had always enjoyed bananas since I was a child. Kiwi started to give me a reaction and gradually I avoided some fruit. Others took a while to build up- avocado, for example.
I noticed that I had difficulty in blowing up balloons for my kids’ parties.
It took nearly a decade for me to get the diagnosis when I went to Southampton Uny Hospital and they asked me if I had been a health care worker.
I am terrified about going on a plane now as I was on a short flight- Virgin- from Tasmania to Melbourne. We had hardly got into the air when my throat began to feel ‘hairy’. I wondered if someone was wearing a potent perfume, so I moved down to the front of the plane and asked for some water. My Epipens were in the hold as it can be difficult to explain what they are sometimes. I was talking to the steward to keep me calm when I noticed the hostess pushing the trolley and she was wearing rubber gloves. I asked if they could be latex and was told they usually have vinyl. The chief steward found the box and he was amazed that they were latex.
He explained that there had been a swift turnaround and the cleaners were not the usual ones. It was only an hour flight, but I was worried that if I had been on a long haul flight, the situation might have been really difficult.
I wrote to Virgin but only had a feeble apology.
I am worried about people like Nigella Lawson promoting latex gloves in food preparation. Eating out is difficult enough. These should be banned.
Usually I am well as I now know my triggers and take avoidance, but one can be surprised and taken unawares.
Thought I would share this with you.
Meet Laura 🇬🇧
She lives in East Sussex and recently graduated and is a Primary School teacher. She is currently spending some time in Australia travelling.
Laura is allergic to peanuts, all treenuts and the spice nutmeg. She always carry EpiPen®️ everywhere. Laura is 25 years old and was diagnosed when she was 7.
Laura has suffered anaphylaxis a few times. “My most recent and worst reaction in June 2018. I ate a pudding which possibly contained nutmeg and had to administer my Epipen®️. I was hospitalised for 2 days.
I often travel every summer to go on holiday. I have never had an issue with flights regarding my allergy before. It was something I never used to worry about. British Airways (March 2019), were amazing with my allergy. They made an announcement and didn’t serve any nuts at all throughout my long haul flight. I always bring my own food on flights that I cook from home.”
Unfortunately for a short domestic Aussie flight with Qantas Laura describes being surrounded by her fellow 160 passengers being served an almond slice that was complementary despite notifying crew of her concerns.
Laura was given a mask to wear which she knows won’t prevent an airborne reaction, she was frightened and spent time in the plane’s toilet.
One day she hopes airlines don’t serve free snacks, consider snacks without nuts and that routine flight announcements are made highlighting allergies.
Globalaai is sharing this story to open a conversation about air travel. About food on planes and about social inclusivity and safety of those who live at risk of anaphylaxis. How would you feel being given a mask to wear and having your allergen served to everyone around you within a plane? ✈️
We send our thoughts and care to Laura as she recovers from a difficult and scary situation, and of course hope she can travel safely on her journey.
My allergy developed at the age of 16, but got to the point of anaphylaxis after I had my son. Nuts are hidden in a lot of vegan and vegetarian food, and I’ve been vegetarian since I was a child. It definitely adds an extra level to an allergy but is not something I would even consider changing.
I lived in Morocco for 6 years and realised how allergies just aren’t really a thing there like they are in the UK. There’s a number of different theories why, but I can go through that another day. My son has learnt how to advocate for allergies, often listing all allergies including irrelevant ones, better safe than sorry.
Luckily he is allergy free, and his school doesn’t have any allergy kids at the moment so he can take a nutty bar to school to help him stay desensitised. I’ve found people to be generally helpful when I express my allergy (in particular flights) but quite often restaurants lack knowledgeable staff who don’t understand allergies.
Occasionally I will have a server who will say “don’t worry, I/a sibling/ a good friend has that allergy and I get it, I’ll do all I can” etc but that is rare. It makes all the difference to have someone who understands your condition!
Letteria shares her 3 year old son’s allergy story 💙
S O N N Y S. S T O R Y.
This is my perfect little man sonny he is currently a 3 year old, he suffers allergies.
Sonny had his very first reaction to peanut butter at 6 months old where he had picked up a bit of toast from his big sister (no I didn’t give him the toast he picked it up from her plate) it wasn’t an anaphylactic reaction, he broke out in a rash and had hives all over him, his dad had just done first aid and had training in anaphylaxis he was straight on to it thank goodness, a bath and a bit of antihistamine fixed this and from then we knew to keep him away from peanuts.
Sonny had his second reaction this time to egg on good Friday he was 15months old my parents own a pizza shop / coffee shop Sonny had a cake at his 1st birthday and had a few cupcakes and never had any problems, I was having eggs and my beautiful daughter was having a boiled egg I gave sonny some of our toast with a bit of dipped in egg on it, the instant the egg touched his lips he was swollen he looked like elephant man. We were just around the corner from the hospital I put him straight in the car and took him there by the time we got to the hospital I couldn’t even recognise my perfect little sonny mans face, he was unconscious, he was still breathing I could see his stomach moving, as soon as we got there they cut his clothes off him gave him adrenaline, a steroid, and antihistamines.
It took him a good 5 minutes to open his eyes it felt like a life time we stayed in there for 6 hours while the beautiful staff monitored him it was the scariest day of my life, never have I had the feeling that it was possible I was going to lose one of my babies and that feeling I never wish upon any one, we were given a referral to the Royal children’s and this is where our journey begun.
We were in to see the Royal Children’s with in weeks of his first anaphylactic reactions where they tested him for eggs, peanuts, and a whole a lot of other things. His egg and peanut readings were fairly high and with this I was given his EpiPen and his plan for what we should do in case it was to happen again. I will be the first to tell you I was so uneducated on allergies so I had a lot of work to do to make sure I could do everything in my power to keep my little man safe.
We had 2 appointments at the Royal Children where sonny was on the boarder for anaphylaxis with eggs so they told us to come back and they would give him an egg challenge. This is where they do a batch of cup cakes they put 1 egg in and bake 12 cupcakes sonny had a finger nail piece of the cupcake and started reacting straight away so they gave him his medication and told us to steer clear of eggs his reading for peanuts was too high to even think about testing him.
6 months later we went back and got the news I didn’t really want, Sonny is growing into his allergies not out of them. By the age of 6 you will know if this is a life time thing or not, Sonny’s doctor isn’t confident Sonny will grow out of them as when we first went his reading for eggs was an 8 and peanuts was a 12, now his reading for eggs is a 17 and peanuts is at 15. Sonny is also allergic to dog saliva where he breaks out in hives and a rash with this I had to get rid of my beautiful little mini foxy boofa as Sonny couldn’t even go out the backyard with out reacting.
This affects our everyday life, I get anxiety taking him out of our 4 walls, going to the park, to the supermarket, going to eat out or getting take away. My daughter is 5 years old and is amazing, she has special times at her mamas and nanas where she gets to eat eggs and peanuts and has a bath before she comes home as she understands how serious this is.
It scares me now but what scares me is one day I’m not going to be in control of every move he makes and at 6 when he his off to school. The worries other parents have are “is my child going to have friends” and “I hope their happy”. I have the chance every time I take Sonny out of the house that he could possibly die, mine will be I hope to god I have educated Sonny enough to know not to touch anyone’s food and I pray other parents stick to the rules of no peanuts. There will still be eggs, and I dread the day he has a drop off party to go to.
I want him to live a life as normal as possible but he needs to know by 6 how to administrate an EpiPen and what he can and can not eat.
While other kids have the worries of what toy to play with mine has the worry of a lot more, I will do everything in my power to educate him and hope to god that he is always safe.
X thanks for taking the time to read his little story I know there is a lot worst things kids can have, but this is our story X
Meet Braden and Andrew they are two American kids living in Spain! Their mum Leanne shares their story:
“There are unique challenges to being military kids with severe allergies. We travel often and with frequent moves must be extremely vigilant and well versed. We plan and prepare always. We rely heavily on translation apps, allergy support communities online and websites committed to offering up to date information on products. Advocating loudly as their parents for their safety never stops, because the adults/situations around them are frequently new and unfamiliar.
Braden is 9 and anaphylactic to multiple antibiotics and to a yet ‘unknown’ as he suffered a severe reaction while on the bus home from school without any exposure to his known allergens. He now self carries. He has become a huge champion and mentor for his little brother. Andrew is 4 and anaphylactic to Dairy in all forms. Both carry an Epipen Jr. 😊”
“Hi members at Globalaai, I would love to contribute our daughters story and help raise awareness with her journey.
Gabriella will be 4 on the 6th of December. She has multiple life threatening allergies such as Peanuts, All Dairy, Eggs, Seafood including some fish and shellfish, wheat and gluten. She is also allergic to dustmites. She suffers with chronic eczema as well as gut issues such as gut dysbiosis and possible malabsorbtion.
We do our best to manage all of her health issues while healing her gut and in turn hoping to heal her skin and rid it of the severe eczema. She eats an autoimmune paleo diet with GAPS features, a strict clothing and skin care regime as well because she is contact reactive to her allergens. Gabby is also extremely sensitive to chemicals and often reacts to perfumes, creams, steroids, make-up, and houshold cleaning chemicals along with many other things.
Her journey hasn’t been easy and she is often excluded from things every other child does and takes for granted. She will be homeschooled and isn’t able to participate in activities such as sports or playgroups. She is a fighter though and pushes through each day with amazing strength and a positive attitude because for her this life is ‘NORMAL’ she hasn’t known any different and for that we are thankful.
We have set up a gofundme campaign to help us build a home that would meet all of her needs and become her very own SAFE haven which she currently doesn’t have. We would be extremely grateful if you could help us share our story and our campaign so we can achieve this enormous goal.
Thanks, Tiffany Marler.”
Growing up with allergies was considered the “norm” in our family. I’m pretty sure that every one of my 4 sisters have allergies to random things and my brother has anaphylactic allergies to eggs. I don’t know how mum managed to remember all of our individual allergies, but we were all aware of them ourselves, so we never had too many issues apart from the occasional rashes and lip swelling. Antihistamines were always in stock in the house and we all knew when and how to take them from a young age. When I was in primary school I was diagnosed with Dermatographic urticari, or “skin writing” where my body over produces histamines on contact. My friends would spend hours writing on my arms and legs with the back of pens or blunt objects to see how far my skin would welt. It was itchy as hell, but a good party trick none the less. Over time my body started to react with even the lightest pressure from clothes and underwear and by the end of the day I would be covered in welts head to toe.
When I started my TAFE diploma in Dental Assisting I began to have severe allergies to latex gloves. The first reaction was when I was chair side assisting and my hands began to burn and itch incredibly. I ripped my latex gloves off and a layer of skin came with them. My hands were raw and swollen, covered in welts and small blisters. I ran my hands under cold water for a long time, but the burning was intense. My clinical tutor wrapped my hands in wet towels and drove me to the nearest medical center where they gave my anti histamines and diagnosed me with a latex allergy. After a few years working in the dental industry, even if someone was donning and doffing their latex gloves near me I began having trouble breathing. Thankfully after having children my latex anaphylaxis seems to have calmed a little bit but I still work in a latex free surgery.
When I moved to the Adelaide Hills with my now husband, Andrew, I went walking around our farm with him through our hay field. While walking I began to feel very itchy and blocked nasally. Andrew had walked in front of me a little so I turned my phone on and took a photo of my face. I was so shocked! One eye was virtually swollen shut and my whole face was red and puffed up. I ran inside the house, washed my face several times and took a handful of antihistamines. My face continued to swell and my whole body was covered in large welts. I jumped in the shower but the water burned so badly that I cried in pain. I tried to call Andrew who was still in the fields, but living in the Hills our phone service at that point was very limited and I couldn’t get hold of him. My breathing was getting very difficult so I took stronger antihistamines, administered my ventolin and laid on the bed with a cold face washer on my face desperatly hoping I wouldn’t collapse or die before Andrew came back home. When he walked in the door and said to me “What happened babe, why did you run off without saying anything?” I took my face washer off and one look at my face made him gasp. He knew I had allergies but had never seen me have such a severe one before. He ran down to his sister’s house (also on our property) and came back with her son’s oxygen tank that he had for sleep apnea. Just as I was about to make the decision to call an ambulance, my anti histamines kicked in and I started to feel better with the oxygen, my ventolin that I had taken so much that I was shaking uncontrollably, 3 different types of antihistamines and the cold compress. I noticed later that day that my hearing was very muffled, when I went to work the next day there was an anesthetist in our surgery that checked my ears and throat and confirmed that they were both very swollen and wrote me a prescription for my first EpiPen®. I showed him the photos that I had taken of myself, he scolded me for not calling an ambulance straight away and told me who close I was to being in real trouble.
Over the years my allergy list has grown to include citrus foods (lemons, oranges, tomatoes, kiwi fruit etc), bananas, sodium laureth sulphate (foaming agent found in many toothpastes, shampoos, dish washing liquid and body/hand washes) and anaphylaxis to Latex, penicillin (which I had my first anaphylaxis to when I was given it via IV while I was pregnant with our twins), wattle flowers and flowering hay. Andrew and I got married on our hills property in Spring 2012. We had spent months in the paddock preparing the area for the day, mowing, pruning, clearing and pulling weeds. The day before the wedding we were doing some last minute gardening when I had an anaphylactic attack to an unknown allergen. I decided to leave the property and check into our honeymoon suite a day early to hopefully let my face recover from the severe swelling. Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky. The morning of the wedding I woke up next to my good friend and rolled over anxiously asking how my face looked. Her response? “We can fix it”. I was devastated. We went to a local chemist and asked for as many over the counter drugs as he could give me. When I said to him “you have to help me, I’m getting married today” he replied “Oh dear. Ok, let’s try these…” handing me over a concoction of medications to try. Thankfully they did reduce the swelling, but in many of my photos it’s very obvious that my eyes are still very swollen and I had trouble keeping my false eyelashes in place with eyes that were constantly watering.
Recently I had neurosurgery for an unrelated medical condition and I listed my allergies, making sure that everyone was very aware of my anaphylactic reactions. A few hours after I came out of recovery I told my attending nurse that my stomach was very itchy and asked what kind of dressing had been used. She looked at my stomach and was shocked at how swollen and red it was. She quickly removed the dressings which again took a layer of skin with the sticky adhesive. She checked the box of the dressing and couldn’t find any allergy warnings. She drew a pen line around the border of the red area to monitor the swelling and got the attending doctor to look at me. By the time the doctor came the redness was extending past the pen borders. I was given IV antihistamines and my oxygen was increased. The staff researched the brand of dressing online and found that it did indeed have a latex content. This reaction caused by a dressing containing a reasonably common allergen that was not sufficiently labelled, caused my hospital stay to be prolonged by several days.
Living with my own allergies has been a constant struggle. I can only wear certain brands of underwear that don’t have latex in the bands and I can never wear strapless bras as they all contain a “grippy strip” that is made of latex. I have even had reactions to things such as garden tools and dish washing brushes that have rubber handles. I’ve had an anaphylaxis in a restaurant where the kitchen staff touched my food with latex gloves. I have to look at ingredient lists carefully and usually can only use the more expensive brands of body wash/shampoo etc. that don’t contain foaming agents. But more recently I’ve even had to deal with my 3 beautiful children also inheriting my Type 2 allergies. Alexander,3, has an anaphylactic allergy to penicillin and cefeclor (ceclor antibiotic) and he is asthmatic (which is also common with people that have multiple allergies) and my 2 year old twins also have anaphylactic allergies to latex, which was discovered when they were born 7 weeks premature and IV tubes were secured with latex dressings in the neonatal unit.
My husband has had CPR and EpiPen® training in case I am ever not well enough to administer to myself or he needs to give to one of the children. He is well aware of the implications of how dire things can be if one of us are exposed to one of our known allergens. But scarier is the very real potential that any one of us can suddenly and unexpectedly new allergies without warning. The cost of EpiPens® in Australia is ridiculous given that they have a very short shelf life and are quite unstable when not stored in a constant temperature, which mine are often not given I carry them in my handbag.
The need for allergy awareness is so important. Not only for ourselves and our own children, but also for everyone around us. A latex balloon in a tote bag from a children’s birthday party can be life threatening. As can any allergies that may arise without warning when my children are at daycare or school without me. The general public have such minimal knowledge about allergies and it’s really alarming. Thanks to people like Pooja and Matthew Newman, the founders of Globalaai, finally EpiPens® are starting to be included in CPR and defibrillator units that are found in public places. But more training needs to happen before we are at the point where I feel that I can venture in public, truly safe from an anaphylactic attack.
Rest In Peace dear Emily – gone too young aged just 15, our thoughts are with your loved ones left behind.
The globalaai community reaches out to our Allergy New Zealand community and hopes we can continue to coordinate social awareness and safety worldwide to save lives.
Rest In Peace Karan, another precious life taken too soon. You were just 13 years old with your whole life ahead of you.
Hoping the reports are untrue, hoping you didn’t die because of a lack of inclusivity and respect. Maybe you died because your community didn’t understand how ill a piece of cheese could make you?
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