Swimming is a fabulous way to keep your body in top condition and shape. From sun-kissed beach days, pool parties, or even immersing yourself in the tranquil waters of a lake – swimming should always be experienced with pleasure! But why does one feel flu-like symptoms after swimming in a pool?
Although swimming can be a fun and healthy activity, it is possible to experience flu-like symptoms after taking a dip. In fact, illness may occur when you swim in pools, rivers, lakes or other bodies of water. To save yourself from the risks associated with swimming in these various areas, this blog will provide tips on how to remain safe while enjoying your time in the pool!
Swimming: Is it safe?
Did you know that swimming in contaminated waters, including public pools and natural bodies of water like lakes and rivers, can put you at risk of contracting a range of illnesses? The CDC has warned that there is an increased risk of diseases during the summer when entering recreational waters – so do be cautious! Perhaps most importantly, however: can we catch colds from going into these aquatic places?
Recreational water illnesses
Swimming-related illnesses can be contracted through swallowing, having contact with, or even just breathing mists of contaminated water. Furthermore, chemicals present in the water or gases that form when it evaporates could lead to sickness too.
Diarrhea is the most common swimming-related illness. Those already suffering from diarrhea can spread it through contaminated recreational water. How? On average, the human body has a minuscule 0.14 grams of fecal matter on their bodies – equivalent to a few grains of sand! When a person sick with diarrhea gets in the water, that tiny amount of poop on their body can wash into the water around them and contaminate it with germs. If someone else swallows the contaminated water, they can become infected.
People typically catch one of these nasty illnesses when they accidentally ingest contaminated water. Untreated natural bodies of water could be contaminated with wastewater, sewage runoff, flooding, or someone having an accident while swimming – breeding bacteria, pathogens, and parasites.
So, yes, since the bacteria that cause the common cold can enter the water, you can catch a cold from swimming in a pool. Although the chlorine in the pool might kill some germs, it might not kill all the bacteria.
Other swimming-related illnesses—such as skin, outer ear canal (swimmer’s ear), respiratory, eye, and other infections — can be caused by germs that naturally live in the water and soil. If the chemicals used to kill germs (chlorine or bromine) in pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds are not kept at the right level, these germs can multiply and make swimmers sick.
Flu After Swimming?
It’s common for swimmers to experience flu-like symptoms after swimming in a pool. This could be due to the chlorine levels in the pool, which can irritate the skin and eyes. It could also be caused by bacteria or viruses that may have been introduced into the pool water, making you feel unwell. Other possible causes include allergies to chlorine, soaps, or other chemical products used in the pool and over-exposure to UV rays from being too long in direct sunlight.
Flu-like Symptoms post swimming
The most common symptoms associated with swimming-induced flu-like illnesses include sore throat, coughing, sneezing, headaches, fever, and nausea. In some cases, it might even lead to more severe and chronic lung disease or respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Who is most at risk?
Children, pregnant women, and people who have health problems or take medicines that lower their body’s ability to fight germs and sickness—such as people whose immune systems are weakened because of cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV—are most at risk for swimming-related illnesses.
People with weakened immune systems should know that recreational water might be contaminated with Cryptosporidium (or Crypto). Crypto can cause life-threatening symptoms in people with weakened immune systems.
People with weakened immune system should consult their healthcare provider before participating in recreational water activities like swimming.
If you experience any of these symptoms after swimming in a pool, it is important to seek medical advice immediately.
Prevent getting Flu after swimming
To help prevent this from happening in the future, regularly check the cleanliness of the pool and ensure you follow recommended guidelines regarding how much time should be spent in direct sunlight when swimming outdoors.
The best way to prevent swimming-related illnesses from spreading is to keep germs out of the water in the first place. If you or your child has had diarrhea in the past two weeks, you should stay out of the water.
Tips to avoid getting sick from swimming:
- Don’t swallow water: Even if you only swallow just a little bit of water, you can get sick. Don’t think that the chemicals will kill all the germs if a pool is chlorinated. Some kinds of germs can survive chlorine in swimming pools.
- Rinse off before and after swimming: Rinsing off at the communal showers may seem annoying, but it’s important to shower before and after swimming. Washing your hands is also important.
- Take bathroom breaks: Make sure you take everyone out of the water for frequent bathroom breaks and diaper changes. You shouldn’t be in the water if you or your children have had diarrhea recently.
- Keep an eye on the weather: Warmer temperatures provide excellent breeding conditions for bacteria; the bacteria count could be higher when the weather is warm, so it might be best to avoid swimming.
- Avoid swimming after heavy rainfall: Water is more likely to be contaminated after heavy rain or flooding.
- Keep your ears dry: Remember to dry your ears thoroughly after swimming, and if possible, try to keep your ears dry while swimming.
- Don’t swim with open wounds: Especially from surgery or piercings – open wounds can increase the risk of contracting an illness. If you go into the water with an open wound, ensure you cover the area with waterproof bandages.
- Don’t swim in murky water: If the water looks discolored, cloudier than usual, or smells bad.
If you are particularly sensitive to allergens or chemicals present in pools, then it might be best to speak with your doctor before using any public pools or using your home pool if you have one. Those who don’t suffer from allergies or sensitivity but still want an enjoyable swimming experience without worrying about their health must take care not to swim too long and stay hydrated while doing so.
Experiencing flu-like symptoms after swimming is common and can often be attributed to chlorine levels and bacteria/viruses present within a pool; however, there could be underlying allergies and sensitivities at play too, which need addressing with medical advice. Taking cautionary measures such as regularly checking the cleanliness standards of public pools and staying hydrated when swimming can help reduce potential harm and ensure your swimming experience is safe and enjoyable!