Swimming can be a source of great benefits — physically, emotionally, and socially. However, the greatest benefits are truly reserved for those who invest the most in affording themselves and their families with a private pool. Even if you were to swim in a public pool with the same frequency, you wouldn’t stand to benefit quite as much — in large part because of the increased risks of RWIs. Recreational water illnesses can be caused by the chemicals as well as the germs found in water. You can contract various types of these illnesses in an assortment of ways. While some are contracted by contact with the skin, there are other forms of RWIs as well.
Illnesses can be spread in a variety of ways, whenever a person comes into contact with contaminated water or chemicals in water. One way to become exposed is to swallow water, but that’s not the only one. Breathing in mist near an indoor aquatic facility can also lead to an illness. (Because water contaminants can make their way into the air surrounding a pool, outdoor water sources are less likely to cause exposure to contaminants through gas.) Natural water sources — such as rivers, oceans, and lakes — can contain contaminants, as can manmade sources, such as hot tubs, water slides, splash pads, and swimming pools.
Common RWI Types
When the topic of RWIs come up, many people immediately think of skin rashes, however those are certainly not the only types of problems that can occur. In fact, they’re not even the most common. According to the CDC, the RWI reported most often is diarrhea. Gastrointestinal illnesses can be caused by a variety of germs that often find their ways into public swimming pools. A few of them are Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, norovirus, and Shigella. Of those germs, Cryptosporidium — commonly referred to as simply “Crypto” — is the leading cause of pool-related diarrhea.
Crypto is actually a type of parasite that is extremely tolerant to chlorine. The Crypto parasite’s protective outer shell enables it to survive outside a person’s body for days, even in well-maintained swimming pools. The main symptom of Crypto is diarrhea over a prolonged period of time.
Typically, while those affected can suffer for anywhere from a few days to an entire month, the typical length of the illness ranges from 2-3 weeks. In addition to watery diarrhea, those with illness caused by Crypto exposure often experience stomach cramps, nausea, dehydration, fever, vomiting, and weight loss; however, some people experience none of those symptoms. In those with healthy immune systems, only the small intestine is typically affected. In those with compromised immune systems, though, other parts of the digestive system and respiratory system can be affected, and sometimes chronic or serious illnesses can result. The good news is that those with healthy immune systems typically recover from Crypto exposure on their own.
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