Swim Healthy: Follow These 10 Tips

Premier Health Now

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Are you planning to spend the lazy days of summer at the community pool, waterpark or other water play areas?

Before you dive in, Premier Health Now recommends you teach your family how to avoid catching a recreational water illness (RWI).

You’ll be thankful you did.

The most common RWI is diarrhea, caused by the cryptosporidium parasite. “Crypto” is found in human feces and spreads through water. Most people are infected by: 

  • Swallowing water
  • Breathing in mist from infected water
  • Coming into contact with contaminated water

Crypto outbreaks are on the rise in Ohio, with infections up 386 percent last year. Of 2016’s 24 outbreaks, 10 were associated with water venues, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health.

RWIs also include other infections, such as swimmer’s itch, which affects the skin, and swimmer’s ear.

To ensure no one misses out on the summer fun, follow these rules:

  1. Do not swallow the water
  2. Do not pee in the water
  3. Shower before you enter the pool
  4. Take bathroom breaks every hour
  5. Wash hands with soap after using the bathroom
  6. Check/change swim diapers every 30 to 60 minutes
  7. Drink plenty of fluids
  8. If you or a family member has diarrhea, do not swim until diarrhea-free for at least 24 hours
  9. If diagnosed with crypto, do not swim for two weeks
  10. Check the water’s chlorine levels to ensure they are appropriate

The crypto parasite survives in treated water because chlorine and disinfectants don’t kill germs instantly, says the CDC. When pee and sweat mix with swimming water, chlorine fights those substances too, making it less effective on other germs.

Most healthy people recover from a crypto infection on their own, by drinking plenty of fluids and resting. Young people, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk. A medicine called nitazoxanide is available.

Despite the increase in RWIs, a small number of people are affected each year. The CDC says RWIs should not stop people from going to the pool.

If you have concerns about crypto or RWIs in general, talk with your doctor.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.