What is the Latex Food Syndrome?

If you are allergic to latex, you may have a reaction to eating certain foods.

Latex/Food Allergies
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Do you have a known allergy to latex, and testing revealed a positive allergy to a food? Or vice versa—are you allergic to certain foods, and your test revealed a positive allergy to latex? 

If so, there is a simple explanation—it's called cross-reactivity.

Cross-Reactivity and Your Latex Fruit Allergy

There are similar proteins in natural rubber latex and certain foods (mostly types of fruit or nuts), so cross-reactivity can occur.

This means that if you have a latex allergy, you may experience allergic symptoms to certain foods because those culprit foods have similar proteins to latex. Likewise, if you have an allergy to certain foods, you may experience allergic symptoms when coming into contact with latex.

The reactions to these certain foods that occur in people with latex allergy may include symptoms ranging from the oral allergy syndrome to life-threatening anaphylaxis—so highly variable.

How Common is the Latex Food Syndrome?

In those people with latex allergy, nearly 70 percent will have a positive allergy test to at least one related food, and 50 percent will have a positive allergy test to more than one food. It appears that many of these positive skin tests do not necessarily mean that the person will experience allergic symptoms if the food is eaten, although it may be as high as 35 percent.

Conversely, if a person is known to have an allergy to one of the fruits related to latex (see below), there appears to be an 86 percent chance of having a positive allergy test to latex, but only an 11 percent chance of actual allergic reactions to latex.

What Foods Are Known to Cross-React with Latex?

The following foods have been known to cross-react with latex. The following is not an exhaustive list, as new foods are added frequently:

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Chestnut
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Eggplant
  • Melon
  • Passion Fruit
  • Mango
  • Wheat
  • Cherimoya
  • Green Pepper

How is the Latex Food Syndrome Diagnosed?

In those people with known latex allergy, it is important to evaluate for the possibility of food allergy to various fruits, including those listed above.

This may involve skin testing using commercial extracts as well as the “prick-prick” method with the fresh fruit.

How is the Latex Food Syndrome Treated?

Due to the potential for severe symptoms of food allergy, avoidance of the culprit foods is strongly recommended in those people with positive allergy tests. Other recommendations for people with latex and food allergies include obtaining a Medic-Alert® bracelet and carrying injectable epinephrine, such as an Epi-Pen ®.

A Word From Verywell

The big picture here is to be aware of the potential foods that may cross-react with latex if you or a loved one has a known latex allergy. Seeing an allergist, getting tested, and discussing how you can best manage your latex-fruit syndrome (if diagnosed) is important.

Sources:

Beezold DH, Sussman GL, Liss GM, Chang NS. Latex Allergy Can Induce Clinical Reactions to Specific Foods. Clin Exp Allergy. 1996; 26:416-22.

Sampson HA et al. Food allergy: a practice parameter update-2014. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Nov;134(5):1016-25.e43.

Sicherer SH. Clinical Implications of Cross-Reactive Food Allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001; 108:881-90.

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