Ban the Allergens

We’re supposed to avoid Mylar balloons because too many get let loose to mess with the environment and the power grid.


Now the old fashioned balloons are in trouble, too.  I saw this as I checked Duckie into the hospital last week.

latex allergy

I’m happy that the hospital protects people with latex allergies.  Still, this sign made me laugh just a little.  How risky is a latex balloon in a hospital?  And how many people are impacted and to what degree?

The day after surgery, Duckie’s roommate got a friendly visit from a “comfort dog.”  Although I like dogs, I am allergic to dogs.  Not enough that an over the counter remedy can’t take care of the symptoms, but still.  Aren’t people with dog allergies as important as latex allergies?  And don’t I have much more chance of being exposed to dog dander or saliva than a balloon touching me?  No one even asked me or Duckie if we had any problems with a dog in the room.  Again, I have nothing against dogs.  I like dogs, especially dogs that are well-behaved and belong to someone else.

Sooo…  I checked in for some facts.  First of all, a hospital employee assured me that there are strict rules for “comfort dogs.”  They must be shampooed 24 hours before they come to the hospital.

Okay, but people are allergic to the dog’s dander, which floats around in the air, and saliva, which sticks to everything it comes in contact with, including the floor.  (Urine and sweat are dog allergens, too.)

People who are allergic to latex usually need direct contact, like putting on a rubber glove, although in severe cases, particulates from a glove could be a culprit.  So could particulates from a broken balloon….in severe allergic reactions.

The allergic response to dog and latex allergies is about the same.  One or several of these: itching, skin rash, itchy throat, watery eyes, runny nose, asthma.  In severe cases, an allergic response can result in anaphylactic shock symptoms.

About 15% of people are allergic to dogs, 1% of the population may be allergic to latex.  Allergic response results from repeated exposure to the allergen.  In general, people are directly exposed to dog dander, saliva, etc. at a greater frequency than they are directly exposed to latex.

So my questions:

Is the hospital’s ban on latex balloons overkill?

Should “comfort dogs” be allowed in the hospital?

What else should we ban?  What about flowers?  Tons of people are allergic to pollen.


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