Research shows that swimming pools, shared by many people, carry risks for many infections. Nasal infections, bacterial skin infections, vaginal infections and urinary tract infections are common - contagious - threats caused by swimming in pools. Bacteria from open wounds, fungi and bacteria on the skin can easily infect the body's flora through the water. Bacteria may be especially harmful for children and those with sensitive skin. Therefore, it's important to practice hygienic methods when using the swimming pool to prevent exposure to potentially deadly bacteria. Wearing a swim cap, taking a shower and washing your feet with disinfectant are crucial measures to take before entering the pool this summer.
Fungal infections are the most common type of infectious disease found in swimming pools. Commonly affecting the feet and the fingers, fungal infections can be prevented by cleansing the skin with antibacterial solution. Thoroughly disinfect your feet before entering a swimming pool. Also, if you have diarrhea, a urinary tract infection or open wounds, you shouldn't enter the swimming pool. Unlike saltwater, which has naturally disinfecting properties, pools cannot disinfect themselves and are sometimes not properly chlorinated. So, how can we know if a swimming pool is clean or not?
Scientists highlight that when cleaning pools, ozone gas is the best disinfecting method that can be used. However, this method requires an ozone gas cleaning system be installed within the pool itself when it is being built. Since this is not a common method, the most widely used method of sanitizing pools is by using chlorine. However, chlorine has negative side effects for both the skin and the fabric of your swimsuit, as it causes colors to fade and can cause toxicity if it enters the lungs. When used in small amounts, chlorine does have disinfectant properties. Therefore, the amount of chlorine used in a pool is very important. This is where the factor of pool maintenance comes in. First, a pool's chlorine level must be monitored via testing twice a day. If chlorine levels are not properly monitored, excessive chlorine levels could cause vomiting and cramping in swimmers. Check with the hotel's management to learn if they have certified maintenance crews properly disinfecting the pool with the correct chlorine levels as suggested by the local municipality. In addition, people who will use the pool should ask how often the pool is being cleaned.
The water in a swimming pool should never be cloudy or murky. If you can't see to the bottom of the swimming pool, do not swim there, as doing so could put you at risk for infectious diseases and even death.Dangers of algaeIf you are swimming in a natural or man-made lake this summer, beware of the hazards to your health. Although lakes might seem like a healthier option because of their natural appeal and stunning scenery, lakes can pose certain hazards as well. Blue-green algae is commonly seen in lakes and can sometimes produce toxic cyanobacteria. Algae is slimy and found on the surface of lakes and has a strong odor and a green color. Therefore, you should check the surface of the water before entering. Since you won't be able to see the entire surface, using your sense of smell is another precautionary measure against algae. If there is a smell coming from the surface of the lake, there may be algae present that you cannot see. Another point to consider before swimming in a lake is the clarity of the water. Take a stick and stir the water. If you see algae or seaweed on the stick, or if particles appear on the water's surface, I wouldn't recommend that you enter the lake.
Deadly dirty diapers
We know that water is a natural part of the physical and social development of babies. However, how sure can you be about the cleanliness of the water the baby will enter? You need to be careful if there are other babies from a different age group in the swimming pool, as most of the babies in the pool will be wearing diapers. Feces can accidentally leak from diapers, leaving others in the pool prone to diseases. Since such leakage could spread in the pool, you need to be careful about your baby. If your baby vomits or has diarrhea after swimming in the pool, make sure that a doctor examines your child.
Don't mingle with the crowd
If a pool is too crowded, I recommend that you visit the sea instead. Overcrowded pools lead to fungi, bacteria and viruses that infect the water. High chlorine levels in the water or regular disinfection doesn't always prevent these diseases.
Common infections from swimming pools
Conjunctivitis can form in the eye, as chlorine irritates the eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis causes blurry vision, while chemical conjunctivitis causes redness and pain in the eye. If you experience these symptoms after swimming in the pool, then, you may use underwater goggles. Visit a doctor if your symptoms worsen.
Ear infections can be caused by water that remains inside the ear after swimming. "Swimmer's Ear" or otisis externa infection is not the same as the otisis externa infection experienced during early childhood. The infection forms at the external auditory canal and causes irritation and pain to people from all ages. Common symptoms are itchiness, redness, swelling of the ear, pain when pressure is exerted on the ear, lower levels of hearing, ringing in the ears and a sense of fullness in the ear. In order to avoid ear infections, consider the following:
- In order to avoid otisis externa, make sure your ears are dry as much as possible.
- Put on a swim cap and place ear plugs in the ears before entering the water.
- To make sure there is no water left in your external auditory canal, turn your head right and left to let the water run out.
- Try keeping your head dry as much as possible.
- Use towels to properly dry your ears.
- If there is still water left in your ears, try using a hair dryer to dry the air inside the external auditory canal. Make sure the dryer is at the lowest temperature and fan speed. Hold it a few centimeters away from your ears.
- Do not use cotton swabs or ear sticks in the ear canal. Such objects may harm the wax that protects your external auditory canal against infections.
- If you feel irritation, itchiness, redness and pain, consult a doctor.
Digestive System Infections
Filtering systems are commonly used in swimming pools. This causes the mixed water coming from multiple pools to spread potential infections to other pools connected via this system. This increases the risk of diarrhea microbes missed during the chlorination stage that can travel through the pool's filtration system. In order to avoid exposure to such microbes:
- Do not use swimming pools if you aren't sure about the chlorine level and cleanliness.
- Take showers before and after entering the pool.
- Try not to swallow any water.
- If the swimming pool you're using isn't clean enough, do not swim there.
- Avoid pools that do not have proper water circulation or that don't have a proper chlorination system.
- Change out of your wet swimming suits or bikinis after swimming.
- Take a shower before and after the pool.
- Do not swallow pool water.
- Do not use the swimming pool if it is too crowded.
- Dry yourself thoroughly after swimming in the pool.
- Do no enter the pool with street shoes or slippers.
- Since infants under the age of two are vulnerable towards water and diseases, do not let them swim in the pool.
- Use underwater goggles, swimming caps and ear plugs before entering the pool.