Though a dip in the hot tub might seem relaxing, is it hygienic and safe with all those chemicals thrown in?
It turns out that hot tubs can actually house some pretty serious pathogens, with one serious condition you should be on the lookout for being the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease, a kind of pneumonia that comes from a germ called Legionella- which is often found in water (particularly warm water, like in a spa) and can be inhaled from the steam around a contaminated hot tub. Those spa-users older than age 50, as well as smokers and those with weak immune systems, are especially susceptible to Legionella encounters- with Legionella also being responsible for a flu-like illness known as Pontiac fever, says Michele Hlavsa, RN, MPH, an epidemiologist and chief of healthy swimming for the Centers for Disease Control of Prevention.
The CDC’s most recent outbreak report from earlier this year indicates that 16 hot-tub-related outbreaks were reported between 2009-2010, with a sizeable 25 percent confirmed to be caused by Legionella, and another 43.8 percent of them suspected or confirmed to be caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is another germ usually found in water and soil and known to cause the “hot tub rash.”
Apart from the numerous pathogens found in hot tub water, humans also play a part in the prevalence of germs when they wade into a hot tub. “The average bather has about a tenth of a gram of feces in his gluteal fold, which is a nice way of saying butt crack,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and environmental studies at The University of Arizona. So, with just five people, “you have a tablespoon of poop in the hot tub.”
Another major problem involves people urinating in the tub. Though precise rates of people urinating in hot tubs is tough to know for sure, at least one poll realized that one in five Americans admitted to relieving their bladder in a swimming pool. When liquids like urine and other waste such as sweat combine with chlorine, it creates an irritant called chloramine, which causes red, stinging eyes that can also cause problems with your respiratory tract, Hlavsa continues. “It’s really important to not use the hot tub as a restroom.”
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
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