The Challenges of Living With Latex Allergies
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last Reviewed: March 2022 | Last updated: April 2022
Allergies, including latex allergies, impact many people’s lives in a variety of ways. They affect your physical and emotional well-being, school, work, and household budget. It is important to recognize the challenges of living with allergies so you can take steps to live a full life.
Since a latex allergy can be serious and requires avoiding any latex product, the impacts can be significant. Because latex is found in so many products, avoiding it can be complicated.
Financial impact of latex allergies
Allergies are expensive. It is estimated that the annual cost of allergies in the United States is more than $18 billion. While that includes all types of allergies, on an individual level, specific allergies can still be costly. Costs may include:1
- Insurance co-pays
- Specialist doctor visits
- Epinephrine auto-injectors
- Other drugs
- Supplies like medical alert jewelry
Latex-free products may be more expensive than standard products. This includes things like:2-4
- Bandages and medical supplies
- Balloons or toys
- School supplies and sports equipment
- Sanitary pads
- Clothing, such as underwear and pants with latex-free waistbands
However, all of these things may be needed if a person has a latex allergy.2-4
The cost of time
The extra time it takes to thoroughly research and read all labels for latex in everyday items can be substantial. Going to the doctor for check-ups or testing may mean lost wages. Trips to the hospital or emergency room may mean missed work or school.2-4
If you feel a financial strain due to your latex allergy and its costs, talk with your doctor. You may qualify for programs that help ease the costs of allergy care. Look online for advocacy groups that offer resources to help with financial costs. You can also join the forums on this site to find out how others lower their healthcare costs.
Social impact of latex allergies
Socially, a latex allergy can be quite challenging. It may impact relationships in a variety of ways:2-4
- Having to talk with a party host ahead of time to ask if latex balloons or decorations will be around
- Avoiding going to a friend’s house if rubber toys or sports equipment are there
- Navigating conversations around safe sex practices like using latex-free condoms, dental dams, or diaphragms
A person with a latex allergy may avoid parties or get-togethers for fear of having an allergic reaction. They may avoid relationships because they are afraid of negative reactions from a friend or partner who does not understand the need to avoid latex.2
Cross-reactions can also occur with some fruits, and avoiding this can be hard. This is called oral allergy syndrome.
Talk to the people in your life and let them know about your latex allergy. This gives them the information they need to support you and raises awareness. Once people know your situation, they may consider latex-free alternatives to make you feel included and safe.
School and latex allergies
Navigating school with a latex allergy can also be tricky. This is because natural rubber latex can be found in many items at school, like balloons, erasers, rubber bands, and basketballs.3
This can cause anxiety or fear in a child. It is important to talk with children calmly about their allergy and let them know what to do in case of an emergency. Talk to their teachers and school nurse about their latex allergy, the drugs they are prescribed, and how to use them. School personnel will all need to know what to do in an emergency.3
Reassure your child that their teachers, coaches, and school nurse have been told about their allergy and that they are prepared. Share your child’s anaphylaxis action plan with their teachers, school nurse, and head office.
Make sure to carry your medicines or epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times and wear any medical alert jewelry you may have. Being prepared in case of an allergic reaction can help reduce anxiety about going to events.