Dead skin, hair, sweat, and even bodily fluids find their way into the water when we swim. “Adults shed an average of 0. 14 g of feces each swim, which is the equivalent to the weight of one pea,” said Kelly Reynolds, professor and germ specialist at the University of Arizona. However, dirt and bodily fluids don’t usually pose a danger to other swimmers as the germs tend to be harmless.
It’s true that the chlorine used in a swimming pools also makes bacteria, viruses, and any other germs harmless. But unfortunately, there are some extremely aggressive pathogens that may be a serious threat to swimmers’ health. They find their way into the pool water, which then infects other swimmers.
For example, it can be risky to go swimming after suffering from diarrhea. Once recovered, you should avoid going swimming for two weeks. “Even if you feel better and don’t have the symptoms, you can still be shedding millions, even billions, of diarrhea germs into the pool,” Prof. Reynolds said. You also have to take a shower before swimming and ensure that you don’t swallow any water.
But a worrying study from the United States has shown that most people don’t stick to these rules. One in four adults would go to a public swimming pool despite having an acute case of diarrhea. Half of the respondents also admitted to either rarely or never showering before swimming, and three out of five adults said that they had swallowed water when swimming.
The current situation in the United States shows how dangerous not keeping to these rules is. For example, poor hygiene practices can spread an untreatable illness called cryptosporidium. The parasites are transmitted from person to person in the pool water. If you swallow the water and/or have a weak immune system, you’re putting yourself at particular risk. Infected people suffer from symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach pains, and weight loss for up to two weeks. There’s no cure for this illness.
Thanks to a tough outer shell, the parasites can survive for up to 10 days in chlorinated water. But it’s not just crypto that poses a threat to swimmers – other pathogens that cause diarrhea can be passed on in the water. These include hepatitis A viruses, E. coli, and typhoid bacteria. These germs can be spread orally through contaminated water, surfaces, or food.
It’s also important to be aware of several other health risks at swimming pools. For example, athlete’s foot is a problem that can be avoided by simply wearing flip-flops outside of the pool and regularly drying the areas between your toes. Conjunctivitis (pink eye) triggered by chlorinated water is also a frequent issue after swimming. That’s why you should wear goggles whenever you go under water. Dermatitis is another illness that can be picked up at swimming pools. After an incubatory period of up to eight days, this condition can lead to mouth and throat inflammations, blisters, ear infections, and rashes.
Woman need to be careful of vaginal mycosis and bladder infections. To avoid these issues, make sure to wash or change your swimsuit after every visit to the swimming pool. Also avoid wearing your wet swimsuit for too long.
So now you know the rules to stick to if you don’t want to be facing any nasty surprises. Simply showering beforehand or avoiding swimming for several weeks after an illness will help ensure that you and your fellow bathers stay healthy. Happy and safe swimming!