Latex mattress making me sick, please help!!

My story:

I purchased my first latex mattress a week ago from a local and very reputable factory direct latex mattress store in Phoenix, AZ. I had been wanting a latex mattress for years and have been researching and fully educating myself on all aspects of latex mattress for the past couple months. I tested all kinds of latex mattress in the store before purchase and also went to 2 other competitor stores. I felt comfortable with the Otex certifications of both the blended talalay and the nature talalay. I went with blended talalay with three 3 inch layers in a king size. The company I purchased the mattress from was top notch and I still feel fully confident they are a great and reputable latex mattress company

When the mattress was delivered I decided to help them assemble the mattress and latex layers. A while after they left I felt my head get all messed up (my head felt fogged up and I felt slow in the head, confused, slightly brain dead feeling) the feeling is hard to describe but that’s the best I can do…I’ve never gotten high off sniffing glue but I imagine that’s how it would probably feel. I was trying to just ignore it and chalked it up to the anxiety, stress and physical effort of everything with the mattress. I went about my day and the feel would come and go as I entered my room with the mattress. After two full nights of sleeping on the mattress my head was undeniably all jacked up, basically the symptoms I described previously had increased by 2-3 times.

At this point I called the mattress company and they advised I air out the mattress and try it in a few days or they would come pick it up ASAP if I wanted and give me a full refund. I decided to disassemble the mattress and put it in my garage with a bunch of old bed sheets under it and over it to protect it. I waited a day until my head was back to normal and went out to the garage to smell the latex to see if I would get a reaction. After 2-3 min of putting my head near the latex and smelling it I got that same jacked up head again. My head would stay jacked up for about 2 hours. I did this test about 4-5 more times over the course of 3-4 days. I was in disbelief and a little in denial that I was reacting to the latex. I am still very confident of the safety of latex…with all the safety certifications and washing of proteins, etc. I wanted a latex mattress so bad and was upset this was happening.

I called the mattress company and asked if I could go to their local factory and pick up a couple fresh cut samples to test out. I got a fresh natural Dunlop and natural talalay from Latex International sample. My original latex was talalay blend from Radium. I put both sample pieces in these two huge zip lock baggies and went home. I tested the sample pieces the same as my mattress, I put my face near the latex and breathed for 2-3 minutes. Both latex samples gave the same reaction as my original latex. My head would be jacked the same as before for 2-3 hours.

I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to give up hope on sleeping on a latex mattress because whats the alternative-- polyfoam and memory foam??.. no thank you! But I have tested multiple pieces of latex by smelling them for only 2-3 minutes and have gotten a undeniable reaction every single time. I literally feel like I’ve been intentionally drugging myself for the past week.
Is there hope that maybe the latex is just super fresh and it will air and be fine? Why did I not react in the store? What is going on? I’ve been trying to convince myself that it’s all in my head but my head gets too jacked up to believe that.

My background – I’m 34 year old very healthy male. No previous chemical sensitivity issues of any kind. I’m not allergic to latex to my knowledge. Previously I was sleeping on innerspring mattress for 10 years. I don’t have any history or allergies, other than seasonal allergies. I’m not on any medication. I don’t have any health issues.

Any help or thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Hi KyleH:

I’m sorry you’re not feeling well with your new mattress.

There are different types of latex “allergies” that can be aggravated by frequent contact with the allergen (which usually aren’t the latex proteins themselves) but it would be no more likely to have an allergy to the latex proteins themselves than to many other materials that are used in mattresses and there is also no contact with the latex in a mattress because it has a cover. There is also no evidence in any of the literature that I’ve seen (and I’ve read a lot of it) that sleeping on a latex mattress can increase the chances of developing a latex allergy so unless you have a specific reason to be cautious based on certain medical issues or medical history … latex allergies with a latex mattress aren’t something that I would be concerned about.

With that being said, you’re certainly reacting to something. While it is a complex subject, the essence of it is that there are basically 3 types of latex allergy or sensitivity (although two of them aren’t really an allergy to latex).

The first of these is irritant contact dermatitis which usually comes from an actual irritation to the skin such as from repeated donning of latex gloves or exposure to the powder on them often in combination with skin sweating or frequent hand washing. This is a result of physical skin irritation and wouldn’t apply to latex foam.

The second and most common of the “latex allergies” contact dermatitis allergies (type IV latex allergy) which is most likely a reaction to the chemicals additives or substances that are added to the latex in the manufacturing process and not the latex itself. This is more prevalent for those who have handled latex in various occupations over a period of time (such as health care workers using latex gloves). This is the less severe of the types of “latex allergies” and while it is not “common” it is also not so rare … particularly among certain occupations. Because latex foam has had most of the surface proteins and any remaining unreacted materials washed away during manufacturing (unlike other types of non foamed latex like gloves, condoms, balloons etc.), this is far less common with latex foam. This type of “latex allergy” is a contact allergy (or sensitivity) and the fact that most of the surface proteins and additives are washed away and that the latex is covered makes this type of allergy much less of an issue with latex mattresses. There is more detailed information and links in this thread and latex foam is not mentioned in any of the literature I’ve seen or linked as a possible source of this type of allergy.

The last type of latex allergy is type 1 which is much more rare but much more serious. This type of allergy can cause an anaphylactic reaction with breathing difficulties and swelling and like a bee sting in a small portion of the population can be life threatening. These people are almost always very aware of their allergy and have to go to great extremes to avoid natural latex which is very difficult because it is so widely used in our society. They for example have to check in restaurants where they eat that the workers aren’t wearing gloves with latex or they could have a severe reaction. Most people that sell latex mattresses can go a lifetime without ever seeing this type of latex allergy. This would be connected to the proteins found in natural latex which would be missing in synthetic latex.

There is more information and a brief description of each of these here. This is a very useful page with quite a bit of information.
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There is also much more information about latex allergies in this topic and the many other sources of information that it links to as well.

In most cases … latex can actually help more common allergies because it is resistant to dust mites which are a leading cause of allergies in the population (see post #2 here). Strangely enough … there are certain allergies and certain conditions that can go hand in hand with latex allergies. Those with Spina Bifida for example have a much higher incidence and allergies to banana, pineapple, avocado, chestnut, kiwi fruit, mango, passionfruit, strawberry, and soy can all go hand in hand with it as well and is called the latex-fruit syndrome. There is a good Wikipedia article about latex allergies here and there is also a lot more information on various medical sites across the web.

It’s also possible that you are simply sensitive to this material for one reason or the other, much like someone who has Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Even if the materials in a mattress or the mattress itself has a reliable “safety” certification then for most people they would certainly be “safe enough” … regardless of the type of material, the smell of the material, or the name of the manufacturer on the label, although of course some people that are more sensitive or that have certain health conditions (such as MCS or multiple chemical sensitivities) may still be affected by a material that is certified even if it would be fine for most people.

Short of having an allergy test done by a physician, the fact that you’re having a similar reaction to different types of latex increases the likelihood that whatever is going on has some sort of connection to latex. If airing out the product doesn’t diminish your symptoms, at least you have a retailer that is being accommodating in allowing you to return the item.

I’ll be interesting in finding out what you decide to do and if your symptoms persist.



Thank you for your detailed response. I greatly appreciate the time you spent helping me with my situation.

I am still unsure as to why I’m having this reaction. I was convinced it was just all in my head but after continued testing using my smell test and continuing to have the same reaction I’m certain it is real. Its just crazy cause I’ve never had any latex reactions or MCS in the past. I was just super excited about my new mattress and to sleep on latex:(

I have an appointment tomorrow to have a latex allergy test done, both blood and skin. I will post my results on here.

Thanks again!


Hi KyleH.

Smart move seeing your physician. Feel free to share any results (as long as you’re comfortable with that). Remember to bring along any items that you think may be causing you any issues, including the foam samples and the covering of the mattress (if that is easily taken off of the product).

Good luck!


I bought a latex mattress last spring. I have had asthma and allergies a longtime but they have been well managed until a few months ago. After a few months usage of the latex mattress, I began having asthma issues while sleeping fairly often. My doctor increased my meds but I am trying to determine the root cause. I suspect my mattress but am not sure. I do know that the few times we have been out of town, I did not have a problem. Is totally encasing my mattress an option? I understand this works with dust mites (I am highly allergic to those little bugars) but what about latex allergy?
I have an organic cotton mattress cover and a mattress protector. I wash the protector every month or two but have not washed the mattress cover yet (that will be a pain to remove latex layers and put them back).
BTW, you site was very helpful to me in finding a good latex mattress and, otherwise, I am pleased with the mattress. I would like to have a solution that enables me to keep my mattress.
Thanks for your help.

You faced with a typical allergic reaction on latex mattress. Anyway, there are lots of other options in the internet. There are lots of “professional” reviews. To be honest, I don’t believe them, but there are often good lists of mattresses. I’ve ordered my mattress according to one of such reviews.
Anyway, I know there are many options for allergics, like Zinus Green Tea Mattress. It is infused with green tea extract and castor natural seed oil. maybe it’s an option for you. Moreover, it’s not really expensive.


Did you ever get this problem resolved?