Many people swim to keep cool during the summer months. Outdoor swimming pools are more susceptible to contamination for a variety of reasons. Windblown debris and dirt can affect water quality, as can unsanitary water sources, like rain, that contain algae. Bird droppings can also find their way into the pool. These are less possible in indoor pools however, there is still a big chance of contamination due to the dirt and products people bring into the water. Swimmers contaminate the water with sweat, sun screen, cosmetics, saliva, urine, and fecal matter. Although swimming pools have a filtration system to eliminate dirt and debris, along with chlorine to kill any pathogens in the water, there is still a chance of contracting a recreational water illness. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you that you and other swimmers avoid contracting any water-related illnesses:
- Don’t swim while ill with diarrhea. A person who is ill with diarrhea can contaminate the water with fecal matter. This causes pathogens to wander in the water, eventually contaminating swimmers.
- Patients with Cryptosporidiosis should not swim for an additional week after the diarrhea has completely finished. Doctors recommend this because once you have diarrhea, you may still expel particles without your knowledge, which can contaminate the pool you are swimming in.
- Don’t swallow the water. Pathogens that cause diarrhea illness in swimmers can be transferred through the mouth. We do not drink the water we bath in since it contains all the dirt from our bodies, so why would we drink our swimming water?
- Keep your ears as dry as possible when you swim, and dry your ears after swimming. Most medical experts recommend that everyone, including children, use a bathing cap, ear plugs or a custom swimming mold to prevent water from entering the ears. You can eliminate water from your ears by pulling the earlobe in different directions while you are faced down. Medication should be used for people who contract an ear illness due to swimming. Contact your doctor to see what medication is right for you.
- Don’t swim when you have open wounds. Open wounds are a great way for pathogens to enter your body, so a person with an open wound should wait until the wound is completely healed before they return to swimming. If you must swim, a great option to protect your wound is by using a waterproof bandage to cover the wound and protect it from infection.
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