Looking for a Latex-Free Pacemaker?

If you tell a hospital or a doctor’s office you have a latex allergy, they will challenge you and say it’s just a sensitivity, it’s not a real allergy. Beware of this irresponsible, uneducated response in the medical world.

Looking for a Latex-Free Pacemaker?

Even though almost everyone in healthcare is aware of the latex allergy, never assume the medial world is latex-free. It’s really quite the opposite. If you tell a hospital or a doctor’s office you have a latex allergy, they will challenge you and say it’s just a sensitivity, it’s not a real allergy. Beware of this irresponsible, uneducated response in the medical world. Quite frequently nurses and doctors tell me – almost everything is latex-free anymore, when it is really quite the contrary! If they ever had anaphylaxis even one time, they would not take this allergy lightly. It is worse than the peanut allergy. Both can suddenly result in death after exposure. If you eat it, breath it or touch it, it can kill you in minutes of exposure. Exposure to it may even cause reactions weeks later. You can’t see it or it’s residue, so try avoiding an unseen monster. It is nearly impossible.

One hospital in my area is still proud to use latex everywhere, in the form of gloves, building materials and even in the flooring, caulking and glues used in tiles and carpeting. In fact, they just recently built a new hospital from the ground up. They could have been the first latex-safe hospital in the area but did not give any regard to the latex-allergic population and used latex everywhere in the building plus they sport boxes of latex gloves in every room! This not only is a dangerous practice; it is still contributing to the problem of increasing cases of latex allergy. I am embarrassed to say that this is my nursing school alma mater and it is very disappointing that they choose to be so ignorant. I can’t even step foot in it or any of the satellite offices for my own or my family member’s medical care.

My mother needed to have her pacemaker generator replaced. This started an inquiry on what brand of pacemaker generator they would be using, which pre-op antibiotic was needed that was not contaminated with latex, in addition to the details of the instrument tray that had masking tape on it that changes from plain to brown stripes when it is sterilized (masking tape is made from paper soaked in latex). In the case of the instrument tray, masking tape on the outside is a good indication that someone assembled the instrument tray for sterilization with latex-contaminated hands if they touched the masking tape on the previous tray. I know this sounds picky and unbelievable, but 4 molecules of latex can cause anaphylaxis and death. Latex is dangerous, in fact the CDC, in an article called America’s Deadly Dust, (circa 1996-1997) indicated that latex was the asbestos of the 90’s! Not to get off track, but latex companies are big like cigarette companies. They were given immunity by the federal government and need I say more…. money talks even when the latex can cause deadly results. This information has been taken off of the Internet so it will be difficult to research.

There was a snippy nurse practitioner that called a week before my mom’s procedure. My mom has a three-page list of antibiotics she cannot take, listed under her allergies. The nurse practitioner wanted her to have Ancef. I told her the antibiotic list says she gets C. Diff from that, on only one dose. My mother and I did not think she should have that particular antibiotic because the episode of Clostridium Difficile (which is violent, contagious diarrhea, about 20+ episodes a day, for which one of the 3 choices for cure of the C. Diff is a carcinogen, the other antibiotic my mother had anaphylaxis to and the third choice is a natural remedy that only works if the case is not severe) which she got from one dose of it that lasted 9 months and finally ended after a week of an extremely expensive experimental drug to end the exhausting, contagious siege of it. I told her she could have erythromycin which was also a broad-spectrum antibiotic. I also told the nurse practitioner, if they insisted on that one I would need to know the brands that the hospital used so I could contact the production managers of those companies to make sure they did not use latex gloves in production, that the rubbery stopper injection port and that the ingredients they used in the production were latex-free, and not contaminated with latex. A few days later, this nurse practitioner called back and said that the doctor wanted my mom to have this antibiotic or he would not do the procedure. She also told us that the doctor said she was not pacemaker dependent and she could live without the pacemaker that she had for 10 years. She said the doctor said she would just get tired without it. (The reason she had the pacemaker was because her heart rate was 30-40 beats per minute and she would have died without it. Her cardiologist and medical doctor disagreed with the nurse practitioner’s statement, and we knew she was incorrect also). The nurse practitioner went on to say, in her bossy, cocky threatening tone, that mom could have it put in at several other hospitals and gave examples that were 100 miles away. She was a real bully. Then she went on to tell me that she did my “leg work” for me and already called the hospital pharmacy about the latex-free Ancef. She said they guaranteed me that it was latex-free and that they don’t use any drugs that have latex in them. I knew this was a lie since I have great difficulty finding a few latex-free medications that I take myself. So, as usual I trust no one that feigns to have indignant authority on latex contamination because they really are ignorant and don’t understand that 4 molecules can cause anaphylaxis. So, I called the company that makes the brand the hospital uses and they, in writing, said they did not use latex gloves in the plant where the make it but they could not guarantee that the ingredients were latex free because they don’t check for that. So….it is therefore considered contaminated with latex. If you have had anaphylaxis to latex, this is the exact kind of ignorance that will kill you with your next reaction. So, you need to check into each part of the procedure yourself and ask for the answer in writing because then when you have a reaction you have a legal leg to stand on. After I got this information, I called the hospital pharmacy and discussed it with them since the nurse practitioner said they guaranteed it was latex free. Interesting how she said that the pharmacy guaranteed her it was latex free but the pharmacy did not agree with that. I might mention here that I asked 3 different people if the doctor could call me about this but I never received a call from him. I am not 100% sure that my messages reached him, but if they did, once again the patient gets ignored because they know better. To make a long story longer, they insisted on giving my mom the Ancef, and 2 days later she indeed had explosive C. Diff diarrhea, which took many doses of latex-free acidophilus, yogurt and Flagyl (which is a carcinogen with terrible side effects including furry tongue). So if the Know-it-All nurse practitioner felt satisfied that she got what she wanted as far as the pre-op antibiotic, she caused a frail, 86-year-old woman who uses a walker to get around, to have urgent, explosive diarrhea, which considering her limited ambulatory condition, did not always make it to the bathroom, so this contagious diarrhea was not limited to the toilet, but now in clothing, floors, sinks and handled by several people needed to assist this proud, embarrassed elderly woman. This could have been prevented by just listening to the patient and family. (Just as an aside, after she was given this antibiotic that was not latex-free, she also had chills for 4 days, which she gets when she is having pre-anaphylaxis symptoms (and needed antihistamines) for what could have potentially led to anaphylaxis due to latex contamination.) Of note, an interesting thing that my mom’s doctor, who put the pacemaker in, told everyone that day in a high and mighty attitude that my mom only had one true allergy, and that was to Vancomycin! This kind of doctor is a very scary one who, number one is not an allergist, and number two was the doctor that put my mom’s very first pacemaker in that ended up with an infection that caused sepsis and almost her death. He may have been good at putting the pacemaker in but we would not use him for any other medical care. This made my mother want to explode but she kept her cool. He also indignantly said she was not allergic to latex either. He was fiercely incorrect, but this is a common attitude with doctors and nurses in the hospital and office setting. Once again, it is very dangerous not to listen to the patient and their family. They know their history the best.

Now for that pacemaker… I called the Cardiac Cath Lab of the hospital and asked what brands of pacemaker generators they put in. I planned on calling all of the companies. I knew that probably one brand would be used, but sometimes things happen and a switch of brands may be needed at the last minute, so to be safe, I wanted to know all of the brands they carried so I could be sure. They told me they don’t know what brands the cardiologist is contracted to use. Then, they told me they didn’t stock the cart so they did not know what brands they carried. Really? You work in the Cath Lab unit; you grab things off the cart a couple times a day because this is what you do for a living and you mean to tell me you had no idea what brands were on the cart? Scary to think someone working in that unit didn’t know this. Aren’t people in healthcare supposed to be helpful, caring and wanting the best results for their patients? Anyway, I called the cardiologists office to find out if they knew. They said this doctor only used 2 brands and that is all the hospital carried. Why was the person in the Cath Lab so obstructive? This was a simple, no brainer answer from the office of the cardiologist. So, on I went for my next task of finding out if the components were latex free and if any part of the pacemaker generator might be touched by latex gloves in the processing and packaging thus contaminating the unit. It takes a long time to find out information from any factory. It turns out that these companies have changed in the last 10 years, bought out each other, changed names and no longer carried the St. Jude pacemaker my mom had. So, the office said they would use a Boston Medical or Medtronic. Somehow in the conversation with the Boston Medical customer service representative, I found out that St. Jude was bought out by Abbott. Now the office didn’t say anything about Abbott but I thought I would check them out too in case the connectors didn’t work with my mom’s wires. Stranger things have been known to happen. Well, the Medtronic company could not guarantee their pacer was latex free because they buy components for the pacer from other companies and they don’t know if they would be contaminated by these companies so this pacemaker was on my “danger” list. A few days later, Abbott came through to say they were latex-free for years, only used nitrile and no latex gloves whatsoever. Lastly, but with 100% guarantee, Boston Medical came through with an email, in writing that they have been latex free for years and never use latex gloves in the production or packaging of their pacemakers! Yea! Boston Medical was the actual pacemaker generator/battery unit implanted in my mom. One week later the site is healing, there is no reaction and it was worth every minute of time it took to be sure it was latex free. This investigation process created anxiety in my mom and ourselves considering all the false and obstructed information we got from the people actually working with the products.

Even if this article is helpful to you as far as finding a latex-free pacemaker, you should call the company yourself, tell them you need to contact the production manager, who is the only person who knows for sure because they are in the actual factory, on the floor of the manufacturing process and they know exactly how the pacemaker or whatever you are investigating is handled. The production manager is the person to ask for in every case, whether it is for a pacemaker, medication, food, clothing, shoes, musical instruments, sports equipment, or electronic devices like phones, computers, cameras or tablets. It is better to ask for an email or letter because then you have it in writing because the answer is likely to be the truth rather than lip service from the “yes men.”

The other thing is if you find out the information one year, if another item is needed, call again because the factories often change their practices.

I guess this may seem kind of paranoid but you must check everything. You have to play detective if you have anaphylaxis, after the fact. Prevention is everything. There are enough variables without taking care of the main components. I would like to share a short example of why you must talk to the production manager in every case.

My friend went into the hospital for a short procedure, when someone would normally be discharged in 4 hours after this normal, uncomplicated procedure. It involved putting in a Foley catheter. The box said the catheter was latex-free. After it was inserted, she began having respiratory distress, her airway swelled, she could not be intubated through the mouth because of the swelling and ended up with a tracheostomy in her neck, which also caused her to be on a ventilator and hospitalized for over a week after nearly dying. The doctor called the catheter company only to find out that the kits with the catheter in were assembled by workers wearing latex gloves. So, the catheter while it may have been carefully made latex free was contaminated with latex from the gloves when the kit was assembled. Sterilization does not destroy the latex protein.

So, you have to check into EVERYTHING used during your procedure AND hospitalization. Leave no rock unturned. It is your life we are talking about! If someone caring for you is casual about it, beware and take matters into your own hands. You need to make sure to investigate everything you will come in contact with in order to survive.

I just want to mention something else that was involved in my mom’s pacemaker. She was prescribed a body wash that she needed to use over her entire body for 5 days prior to the pacemaker. The box said it was a carcinogen. For someone who has had multiple skin cancers removed, this is not a safe thing to use. She was told it was for only 5 days and she had to use it to prevent infection. So, she used it but then the day of the procedure and at follow up doctor visits she mentioned it. She was told by nurses and doctors alike that it was probably just a California thing and that she would not get cancer from it. Holy cow, such experts again. I can pretty much bet that research showed the body wash caused cancer or they would not be required to put this on the box. I guess by using such a risky soap, they are guaranteeing their future repeat hospital business….

For future reference, if you are allergic to latex and having cataract surgery, knee replacements, dental implants or anything implanted or used on your body you need to call the company and get information from the production manager about possible latex contamination so your body doesn’t go into anaphylaxis or reject the item being put into your body. Don’t be afraid to change the date of the surgery if you are not sure. It is a matter of life and death.

Easy, Low-Cost, Latex-free Blanket You Can Make for Gifts and Yourself

Finding latex-free craft projects, things you can make, that are economical and safe for you to work on can be really tricky. Here is a very easy gift idea you can make for your friends, family, yourself and even pets!

Finding latex-free craft projects, things you can make, that are economical and safe for you to work on can be really tricky. Here is a very easy gift idea you can make for your friends, family, yourself and even pets! It is a soft, easy care, polar fleece blanket. This fabric is 100% polyester so it is latex-free, lycra-free, spandex-free and elastane free. It is durable and can be machine washed and dried over and over without showing wear or falling apart. Some of my polar fleece blankets are older than 20 years and still going strong; with allergies you know you have to wash everything frequently in hot temperatures, including blankets. Last but not least, these blankets are really easy to make!

 

Baum Winterfleece Northern LightsEverybody likes a nice warm blanket when napping on the couch, in the car, in a chair or in bed. These polar fleece blankets can be made in a variety of sizes from the infant crib blanket to a tall adult size. Most of the fleece is 54-60” wide and then you just choose the length from there, such as 40” for a baby crib to 2 ½ yards long for the tall people in your life. They will be surprised to have a blanket long enough to wrap their feet in that reaches over their shoulders! Custom made! There is also a great variety of solid colors and a wide variety of prints from baby blanket themes, monkeys, sports teams and sports themes, hearts, animals, paw prints, stars and others too numerous to mention. So, you will be able to make a custom size and personalized print sure to please the person you are making it for.Wildlife Fleece Prints Valentine's Puppies Fleece Multi
The only supplies you need are the polar fleece fabric, laundry detergent and a washer and dryer to pre-wash the fabric before you cut it and a very sharp pair of scissors. Here is a video link you can watch to see how super simple it is to make. Kids old enough to use a sharp scissors can even help. They can even make them for, or with their friends.
Whisper Plush Fleece Unicorn Cool PinkThe polar fleece is 100% polyester so no spandex, lycra, latex or elastane is in this fabric making it a great project if you are allergic to latex, or for someone you know allergic to latex. Be sure to prewash the fabric in hot water and use a hot dryer before cutting the selvedge or fringes in case there might be latex contamination from the warehouse or store from where you get the fabric. Here is a link to an online fabric store that I use with a huge selection of polar fleece. I ask them not to use rubber bands, masking tape or duct tape so I can practice latex avoidance. I also tell them that plastic is okay since they sometimes are not sure if they can use plastic bags.Baum Winterfleece Meow Club

Baum Winterfleece Owls MultiI hope you enjoy making some practical, useful, latex-free blankets for gifts for your loved ones, friends and yourself. These blankets will be appreciated because you made them with love, they are easy care, will last a long, long time and won’t be too expensive for you to make. Making them yourself or with kids in your family or youth groups will be a great moment of togetherness. You will be making a difference in the world, one blanket at a time. Thank you for reading this blog. If you have other people you make these blankets for or other things you make with this polar fleece, please share in the comments. We need to help each other. Thanks a million.Baum Winterfleece Elephants Multi

Polar Fleece

Treat Yourself to some Razzle Dazzle Llama Pouches, Mug, Basket and Yarn!

How do you treat yourself when you are allergic to Latex? When you want to celebrate or pat yourself on the back, going out for ice cream, dinner, a shopping trip to the mall or a movie are risky things to undertake and can’t be done safely. Finding a way to do something special is very limited. I have found something to treat myself that is fun and also a stress reliever. This special llama kit includes a nice size mug, a zippered pencil case, a zippered make-up size bag, a metal basket and yarn! This kit is practical, fun and very useful. Knitting up the yarn is relaxing and meditative. This kit posed no risk of latex exposure and is a great treat for yourself.

Treating yourself with something that is latex safe, relaxing and practical is fun, and best of all it won’t start an allergic reaction. There are no rubber bands, masking tape or duct tape contaminating these items. They will last a long time, are durable and high quality. So, when I want a treat, I shop online for some yarn from Knit Picks since I never had a reaction from anything they sent me. I do put a note on the order form about the latex allergy and I ask them not to use rubber bands, masking tape or duct tape in the order. I tell them that plastic bags are okay. I have always been able to use their yarns. The mug, basket and bags have been safe and the llama design makes me happy and smile every time I look at them.

So when you want to suggest a gift or want to buy yourself something, this llama kit comes with lots of treats from zipper pouches, a basket, mug and a cute mug that will last you for years to come and will give you a new project to make with some very special, soft, billow yarn. Click on the image and you will be taken right to the video about the Llama Kit. Enjoy!

Below are some links directly to the Llama Kit and some related items.

Llama Kit

Tucked In Book

Milestones and Memories Book

Celtic Journey Book

Billow Yarn

Hurray! Latex-free, Spandex-Free, Lycra-free SOCKS!

One thing we take for granted in our everyday life is we will wear socks on our feet. When you are allergic to latex, you may also have a sensitivity to Spandex, Lycra and Elastane which is another name for Spandex. The challenge lies in finding a pair of socks that does not use natural rubber, Spandex, Lycra and Elastane. My solution to the problem was learning to knit socks that only had cotton, or washable wool with nylon. However, it takes me a long time to knit socks. The rubber, Spandex, Lycra and Elastane can cause itching, hives and anaphylaxis so these must be on you list of 100% latex avoidance for survival.

There are now socks available, from a company who listened and addressed our problem. The name is Cottonique. They make them in a natural color and black color. They are:

Latex-free Socks!!!
  • 100% organic
  • pH balanced
  • Chemical Free
  • Dye free
  • Bleach free
  • Formaldehyde free
  • Latex free
  • Spandex free
  • No optical brighteners
  • No silicone softeners

They come in a few different sizes. They fit well and are washer and dryer safe. This company also started manufacturing some socks with Lycra and Spandex so you have to be careful to purchase the correct ones, so if you click here, you will go to the correct socks.

Our prayers have been answered that we can get socks that fit our feet that we don’t have to knit ourselves. Shout from the highest mountain to spread the word so we keep the demand up for these awesome socks! Thank you Cottonique! (www.cottonique.com)

How to Visit Someone with a Latex Allergy

Did you ever know of someone who has anaphylaxis to latex and were afraid to visit them because you didn’t want to make them have a reaction? This blog will help you prepare for a visit that will be latex-safe.

Did you ever know of someone who has anaphylaxis to latex and were afraid to visit them because you didn’t want to make them have a reaction?

It is nice of you to care. Some people are cavalier about coming in to the house saying they don’t have any latex on them and those are the scary visitors. Taking the time to prepare and thoughtfully think of everything you have touched, been around or worn is much safer for the person with this allergy and their carefully kept latex-safe environment. If you contaminate their environment they could be in deadly trouble for a long time until they try to figure out what to clean up and they have no other place to go that is latex-safe so it is vital to try to limit bringing latex in to their home and contaminating their space. The following is a minimal list of essential steps to take so you can visit your friend or family member.

1. Do not wear new shoes. The best shoes to wear are plain, undecorated Crocs, because they are latex-free. The Crocs with fur or other decorations are glued on and these are not latex free. The fur may be okay but the glue that holds them on may contain latex.

2. Leave your shoes outside or just inside the door. Some people have plastic boxes just inside the door to put your shoes in if you are afraid to leave the shoes outside where spiders may crawl in. Do not wear any shoes inside or throughout the house. The outside latex contaminants from streets and side walks where there may be invisible residue from tires, latex from driveway coatings, rubber shoe soles, bike tires and other outdoor allergens should not be carried on your shoes throughout the house. Also, other places where you have been may contain latex such as rubberized floor mats in the car or new asphalt and street sealants.


3. Wear cotton clothes. Do not wear Spandex, Lycra, Elastane or rubber containing clothes.

4. Wear clean clothes. Do not wear pants, shirts, or coats that you may have worn when you went to the doctor, dentist, a restaurant, church (where poinsettias or rubber stair treads may be used), movies, mall, funeral home, garage, hospital or anywhere that may have had balloons, rubber gloves, masking or duct tape, rubber bands, sticky fly or mouse traps, new cars, car dealerships, florists, greenhouses, plant stores, hardware stores, toy stores with rubber toys such as whoopie cushions, balloons, rubberized handles on scooters, bikes or kids party places. This is just a very short list of places that can contain latex molecules in the air which can land on your hair, clothes, shoes, bags, purse and anything you have on you which will easily contaminate the carefully maintained latex-safe environment. If you hug the allergic person with these clothes on you may set off a reaction and not be sure exactly why.

5. Do not wear makeup, perfume or strong-smelling potpourri infused in your hair or clothing.

6. Make sure you have washed your hands.

7. Hugging and kissing in greetings and goodbyes are a natural, powerful and wonderful practice, but could be costly for a person allergic to latex. Sadly, I was a person who believed in and enjoyed hugging people. I love people, always want them to feel welcome around me and not being able to hug someone spontaneously is one of the things I miss the most in this world.

For example, I learned the hard way by hugging my dad once, early on in my anaphylactic period, right after he went to the dentist who used latex gloves. In less than 15 minutes I was having anaphylaxis. He felt terrible and I almost died. I don’t want people to ever feel bad about making me sick, so I don’t hug anyone unless they are sure they haven’t been anywhere that is contaminated. I also don’t attend weddings (including my son’s wedding, that was one of the most painful days of my life missing that! I also will be missing my other son’s wedding in the near future which is also ripping me apart! They both said they would rather have me around and I would also rather not ruin their day by dying from contamination from latex that I cannot see, but it is heart -wrenching.) I don’t attend funerals (including my own father’s and husband’s, which totally destroyed me), graduations (including my own children, nieces and nephew), parties, movies, get togethers, church (which I miss very much), and the list goes on as I practice latex avoidance to survive.

As you can tell, this is serious stuff and you cannot see or smell latex. Very suddenly, without realizing it, a reaction can be caused unintentionally.

Another personal example I would like to share with you is when my husband was dying. Friends and family members with good intentions of supporting my husband, me and my family came to the house to visit us. Hugs are always a way to share love and support. It was a stressful time, but being allergic to latex and around so many people, not knowing if they were in a new car (the new car smell is sprayed into cars to make them smell new – this spray contains latex), and any one of the places they may have been – a garage for car repairs or oil changes, around balloons in stores, in a restaurant where countless latex gloves are worn to handle food and clean up, etc. In the process of my husband dying at home, we tried to enlist Hospice to help with comfort and the final things that had to take place. I talked to 12 different local hospices who would not take our case because they could not guarantee latex-free care and absolutely refused to touch our case or even try, like we were radioactive. They were cruel and did not even try to help us find help. Luckily being a nurse (which is how I got this allergy in the first place) I knew I could take care of him with the help of my sons and family, but I needed comfort medications that I could not get except through hospice. Our local doctor is not allowed by law to order the liquid morphine, this is something that can only come from Hospice physicians. Finally, I found one compassionate hospice two counties away who was not afraid to help me and kept contact to a minimum. They even arranged to have a squad that understood latex allergies from their county help to move my husband downstairs to a bed in the living room so we could keep any potential latex contamination to a minimum downstairs in the front room and not in my latex-free bedroom, which was my super safe place if I had a problem. It was pathetic how I could not get latex-free or latex-safe help. I will be forever grateful for this particular hospice, which is no longer in our area. Those people were truly angels and we never had any latex contamination.

After my husband died, I could not attend the funeral services because the funeral home used latex gloves, the makeup on the corpse contains latex, the flowers were probably in a floral shop that contained balloons and some plants are latex cross-reactives, sticky green floral tape contains latex, fruit baskets had bananas and other latex cross-reactives, etc. After the services and meal at the church, anyone wishing to come back to our house had to change their clothing before entering our latex-safe home. It was inconvenient but had to be stressed that this had to be done to keep me from having a reaction while they visited.

8. If you were recently at a doctor’s office, hospital, restaurant, garage, mall, party or somewhere that may have been contaminated with latex and it may be on your clothing when you got in your car, before you visit a person with a latex allergy put a blanket or cover down on the seat of your car to minimize contaminating your clean clothes with the residual, invisible latex that main remain on the seat of the car.

9. Be sure not to be around poinsettias and other tropical plants before visiting as these are strong cross-reactives to latex and may result in anaphylaxis.

10. If you have taken a pet to the vet, be sure you and your pet have had a bath and new, clean clothes before visiting because there are very few vets that don’t use latex gloves.

11. If you eat a banana or kiwi the day of the visit, please stay away as these are also cross-reactives and just a few molecules can cause a reaction.

12. Do not bring gifts of food, flowers, plants, balloons or almost anything because of possible contamination and cross-reactivity.

13. If you happened to touch a newspaper with a rubber band, please wash your hands and for goodness sake, don’t be wearing a rubber band or rubber bracelet on your wrist before visiting. Rubber bands are pure latex. Also masking tape is paper soaked in latex and the glue on duct tape is also a latex adhesive so these are very dangerous for people with latex allergies.
14. Playing with Koosh balls, tennis balls, bicycles with rubber grips, basket balls, and other sports equipment like golf clubs and golf balls should not be enjoyed before visiting someone with latex allergies.
This is quite a list but the person with the latex allergy has to live like this everyday and this is only a minimal list of changes they need to make in their lives. If you would like to visit someone with an allergy to latex and its cross-reactives, following the above list of do’s and don’ts will be appreciated. The list is not intended for you to choose a few of the items on it to follow. All of them must be adhered to in order to prevent contaminating their environment. Your visit will truly be appreciated because most of the restrictions in the life of someone with a severe latex allergy is extremely isolating. By taking the time to review where you have been and being mindful of their needs on this list you will be helping them live.

No Latex in this Oliso Iron! Basic Home Tools

No latex is used in this smart iron. The iron will lower with the touch of your hand and lifts when you’ve stopped ironing!

Nice Oliso Iron. No Latex!

Iron freely without worry of being contaminated with latex. I just bought this iron and it works like a dream, has many steam settings and raises itself up when you stop touching the iron so it won’t scorch your ironing project! Plus this one comes in so many colors. I like the purple one.

I have email, written confirmation that they do not use natural rubber latex in this iron.

Stethoscope Made By Littmann is not made with latex!

Stethoscope found that is not made with natural rubber latex! Lots of colors to choose in this high quality stethoscope.

Latex Free Stethoscope

Inch by inch as we cautiously go through life, trying to practice latex avoidance, one by one we find things that are safe for us to touch, breath and eat. We need to share these items with each other to add quality to our lives.

This week I could not find my own latex-free stethoscope and it put me in a panic because it was the only one I knew to be latex-free.

Ordering a new one was a bit of an adventure, but alas, The Littmann Classic III Stethoscope fit the bill. They come in quite a variety of colors, 25 of them on Amazon (see the link below). They have high acoustic sensitivity with  dual single-piece diaphragms and are versatile for adult and pediatric people. They have a small side diaphragm to prevent debris from getting into the open bell, snap tight soft-sealing eartips and next generation longer-life tubing.  The box  says it is not made with natural rubber latex! To boot, they are made in the USA!!! These stethoscopes also come with a 5 year warranty.

Buy one for yourself and tell your doctor and hospital about these for patient safety. You can click on the link below to go directly to this particular stethoscope. Thank you Littmann!

 

Did You Know Many Prescription Medications, Over The Counter Medications and Vitamins Are Contaminated with Latex?

If manufacturers know about latex allergy and the potential for anaphylaxis and death, why would they use latex gloves and rubber on conveyer belts in their manufacturing? It is surprising how many still do…more often that you think!

If manufacturers know about latex allergy and the potential for anaphylaxis and death, why would they use latex gloves and rubber on conveyer belts in their manufacturing? It is surprising how many still do…more often that you think!

Once again I found this out the hard way, by taking vitamins and having a reaction a reaction requiring high doses of Prednisone and almost the use of the expensive Epi-Pen. It takes quite a bit of time and questioning to drill down to get the answers. If you call the company that manufactures the medication or vitamins, you need to ask several questions.

  • First you ask if the product is latex-free.
  • Then you have to go further. Do you manufacture the product with latex gloves in use? Sometimes you have to ask for the Production Manager, the person who is on the floor in the manufacturing process to get a real and accurate answer.
  • Do they test the product to be sure it is latex-free? Many do not do this because it is expensive.
  • Can they put the answer in writing that it is latex free, either in an email or a letter sent to your address?

Most of the time you cannot get a letter or email because if you have a reaction from it, you have proof of what they said was latex free. You may need to keep asking questions until you are sure. If you can get the company to put it in writing then you can take it pretty seriously.

Here is a little example I went through just to see if I could take Tums. I called the company and they told me there was no latex in the Tum tablet. It felt like I was splitting hairs when I keep asking questions but here you will see why. I continued to ask if latex gloves were worn during production of the Tums. Then I got forwarded to the Production Manager. He said they work latex gloves but only touched the tablets if the pill counter that fills the bottles was off. That occasionally if the count was off by one, they used a latex-gloved hand to put one or two pills in the bottle to fix the count. So then I said, I guess I have to play Russian roulette if the bottle I have purchased was the one that had the latex-contaminated tablet. I am not willing to take a chance like that so I do not buy Tums.

Here is another example of why you keep questioning. It is not about pills but catheters. My friend was severely allergic to latex, went to the hospital where they were careful not to contaminate anything with latex. She had to have a urinary catheter inserted and after they did that, she had an anaphylactic reaction, had to have a tracheostomy and was put on the ventilator for a week until the reaction subsided. They called the catheter company. The package said it was a latex free catheter. They drilled down with the questions and the production manager finally said they were  wearing latex gloves to assemble the kits so everything in the kit was contaminated with latex! She almost died, had a hole cut into her trachea because of the reaction she had from that latex free but latex contaminated catheter.  This all could have been avoided with proper labeling and someone in charge that is smart enough  to understand that touching something with a latex-gloved hand causes contamination!

As far as vitamins go, the only place I have found that makes sure their ingredients are latex-free and their production process is latex free is a USA based company called Pure Encapsulations.

Another company that makes enteric coated baby aspirin, McNeil, is a latex free company.  One time I got a bottle of enteric coated baby aspirin but the cap was a grip type cap, felt like rubber and scared me after touching it. Well they are so on the ball, the person answering the phone said that she knows the cap is vinyl and is latex-free. They are so interested in making latex-free products that everyone in the company is aware that the lids are vinyl. I was happy and impressed. Every few years I call just to be sure they have not changed their policies or processes and so far, they are still latex-free.

Just a few weeks ago, my pharmacy stopped carrying the brand of hydrochlorothiazide that I take. They gave me the name of a company they can get it from called Unichem and the phone number. Three weeks ago I called. They told me the production plant is in India. He said he would try to find out and let me know. Three weeks later I made another call to the company to see if it was manufactured in a latex-free plant and they still cannot tell me. They won’t let me talk to the production manager. I am still waiting. This is what usually happens. I will be persistent because I need this medication. The pharmacy also gave me another company that makes it and they can get called TEVA. Same run around. The customer service person has only so many documents to search through. Still no answer. This is what you will typically find, but you need to persist to get an answer. Your life depends on it.

As we find latex-free manufacturers we will keep a running list here so watch the space. Also let us know if you have documented latex-free medication and vitamin manufacturers so we can help everyone in the latex-allergic community. We will make lists of any other latex free items you find, toys, shoes, and clothing, anything at all so our readers can use us as a resource.

Remember, you can have an anaphylactic reaction to only 4 molecules of latex. Do not take any chances. Epipens, antihistamines and prednisone are for life-threatening reactions, basically a last ditch effort treatment that is not guaranteed to work or that you will survive an anaphylactic reaction. You need to check on all of your medications and  vitamins for latex contamination and anything that goes in your mouth, gets breathed in or touches your skin. So make those calls, and get those answers so you can be sure your medications and supplements are latex-free. Your life depends on it.  Latex avoidance is the only way we can survive this tricky allergy.

Albert Einstein said “Never stop questioning.”

Look Out For Holiday Cross-Reactive Latex Allergens

During the holiday season, it seems especially difficult to celebrate the beautiful season because pine sap and poinsettias are in the air in stores, office buildings, hospitals, churches and family homes.

Look Out For Holiday Cross-Reactive Latex Allergens

It’s hard enough to avoid latex and things contaminated with it, but once you have anaphylaxis, you need to learn all the cross reactive allergens to prevent it.

During the holiday season, it seems especially difficult to celebrate the beautiful season because pine sap and poinsettias are in the air in stores, office buildings, hospitals, churches and family homes.

The first year I had anaphylaxis was especially dicey. I learned about real Christmas trees and poinsettias the hard way. We always got a real Christmas tree, hunting it down, cutting, loading it in the car and bringing it in the house to decorate was a fun, family ritual that we all enjoyed. This particular year was our last year we could have a real tree. The real tree not only brought tree sap into our home but also particles collected on the tree over the years of growing such as pollen, bugs, mold, dust, outside pollutants, animal fur, feathers, sap and other contaminants. It was a real Pandora’s box. Unfortunately the smell of pine was from the pine sap, and if you are allergic to tree saps such as latex, this may or may not be a problem. Unfortunately for me, the real tree was no longer welcome in our home. Allergy to latex changed this happy tradition to a nightmare.

Decorative poinsettias used as gifts and decorations in homes, churches, offices and stores can be deadly. They can also be used to decorate banks, convenience stores and many other places.  I had one of my worst anaphylactic reactions from being around a poinsettia. Beware of this potentially deadly seasonal floral decoration. Many people, including my allergist’s physician’s assistant, are not aware of the poinsettia being a cross reactive to latex.

Artificial Christmas trees and silk poinsettia plants are a safer option. They are dust collectors so they need to be washed if you have a dust allergy. Some have rubber coated wires with glues from green electrical tapes that can be a latex adhesive.  Many artificial trees are made in China and it is almost impossible to find out what they are made from, so it is like playing Russian roulette buying a fake tree or poinsettia. Allergens are probably less though than a real tree. Start 3-4 months ahead of the holiday when trying to establish what the artificial tree is made of and asking for MSDS sheets on them.

After the holidays there are often poinsettias and live greens lingering in stores, shops, churches and convenience stores. So you may find yourself having a reaction when you are in a place that was safe for you before. It may be helpful to prevent a reaction by calling ahead to where you are going to check if they have any real pine greens or poinsettias before you go and avoid it for a few weeks after the plants have been removed. Prevention may be inconvenient but is it worth everything you can do to avoid an anaphylactic  reaction.

 

 

 

Something as Simple as a Flashlight…

Survival with an allergy to latex and its cross allergens is only possible with latex avoidance, but that is easier said than done. It is difficult to meet some daily needs and avoid latex. There is no government mandate to label food or other merchandise contaminated with latex. My quest in search for a latex free flash light is ongoing.

Always be prepared…

Preparing for a power outage from a thunder storm or other inconvenience involves getting some flashlights to have on hand.

Not willing to risk latex exposure by practicing latex avoidance, I decided to order some flashlights online. From the picture, it looked like the flashlights had an aluminum body and LED lights. I didn’t see any black rubber buttons and the description didn’t mention any rubber parts. So, I placed the order, happily thinking these must be latex free and relieved to have them on their way.

Upon arrival, I inspected the flashlight from the sealed packaging and still I saw no rubber, but I could not see 100% of the flashlight. So, the next step was to cut the clamshell package open. Within seconds of just opening one side, I smelled the rubber tire smell and saw a black rubber end of the flashlight, where it would be pressed to turn it on. Holy Moly! In seconds I closed the package, put it in a Ziploc bag and put it outside. Then I washed my hands and took a Benadryl because of the latex exposure. I also located prednisone in my emergency kit and the Epi-Pen. When I walked back in the room where I opened the package 20 minutes earlier I still smelled rubber! In a flash my ears blocked up, my heart raced, my face and hands got red and blotchy and I felt the intestinal fight of flight surge. On my way to the restroom, I grabbed my prednisone, liquid Benadryl and Epi-pen.

After the reaction was under control I contemplated how such a simple thing could kill me and wondered how I could prevent it from happening.

Survival with an allergy to latex and its cross allergens is only possible with latex avoidance, but that is easier said than done. It is difficult to meet some daily needs and avoid latex. There is no government mandate to label food or other merchandise contaminated with latex. My quest in search for a latex free flash light is ongoing. I will be sure to post the answer when the mission is accomplished. Watch this space for more information on products we find are latex free. Feel free to comment if you have found latex free foods and items so those with this confounding, life-threatening latex allergy can avoid it. Thanks a million!