Grand Countians not immune to Recreational Water Illness
May 17, 2011
Across the United States health officials are warning about recreational water illness (RWI) because summer is the time people swim in outdoor pools, lakes, rivers and the ocean.
In Grand County, people should be aware of RWI.For starters, many locals and visitors continue to swim in indoor pools.
And it’s worth remembering that 10 years ago the beach in Grand Lake was temporarily closed over concerns about levels of bacteria in the water at the Grand Lake beach.
RWI is a type of illness that causes ear infections and other water-related disorders. It’s caused by bacterial, viral or fungal contamination of water-from lakes, pools, rivers, oceans, and hot tubs. Chemicals in the water or the lack of certain chemicals in the water can be a contributing factor.
Diarrhea is the most common RWI due to contamination by such bacteria as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Norovirus, Shigella and E. Coli strains. Children, pregnant females, and those with a weakened immune system are the most vunerable to this illness.
There are ways to avoid RWI or becoming ill with this disorder. Think twice about getting in a pool if there are many infants or small children in the water.
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Do not swallow water, whether it is water from a hot tub, pool, lake, river, or the ocean. Avoid getting water in your mouth. Do not swim if you have diarrhea or any vomiting.
Shower with soap before swimming and use good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs to others. Take small children to the bathroom often while swimming and check swimming diapers often as well.
Another issue that faces many individuals is “Hot Tub Rash.” A few days after soaking in a hot tub, pool or lake, the person notices portions of their skin being red and itching. The area most affected is the skin covered by a bathing suit. Blisters and pus may be noted as well. This is usually due to a bacterial infection. The contaminated water comes in contact with the skin for a long period of time. This is often due to inadequate chlorination. Avoid this disorder by removing your bathing suit and showering with soap and water immediately after getting out of the water.
Swimmer’s ear (Otitis Externa) is a problem for many children during the summer season. Children may complain of an earache, tenderness with manipulation of the auricle or tragus and drainage may be noted. The ear canal itself may be inflamed and red.
Normally, ear wax protects the ears from water, bacteria, and injury. If extra cleaning of the canals occurs and scratches to the skin occurs, infection can develop. After swimming, water may remain in the ear canal and this enables germs to grow.
Immediately after swimming, rotate head gently from side to side to release excess water in the canals. Use a blow dryer on the low heat setting, holding it at least 12 inches from the ear and blow the air towards the ear. Ear plugs for swimming may help as well as long as they do not cause any skin irritation inside of the ear. Antiseptics such as acetic acid have bacteriostatic properties, making the ear canal’s environment less receptive to bacteria for living. Acetic acid drops or drops of alcohol combined with 50/50 water may help.
Treatment for swimmer’s ear can involve using antibiotic or antifungal drops as directed. This can be very effective. People with swimmer’s ear should avoid swimming for 7-10 days.
Enjoy the start of summer in Colorado and keep your family healthy.
For more information, please contact Granby Medical Center 970-887-7400.