Here's why you should really try not to swallow swimming pool water this summer

Swimming pools look serene but could be hiding a whole host of nasties [Photo: Getty]
Swimming pools look serene but could be hiding a whole host of nasties [Photo: Getty]

There’s nothing quite like a dip in the pool to cool you down in the summer time, but while we're probably not going around guzzling down pool water on purpose, in it’s almost inevitable we’ll swallow some of the water.

But there’s no need to panic if you do because chlorine keeps the water clean, right?

Well, sort of, but there is still a risk that gulping down a mouthful of pool water could have an impact on your health because even crystal clear water could be hiding a heap of nasties all set on spoiling your summer time fun.

“Swallowing a small amount of pool water is usually fairly harmless, but it’s important to avoid it as much as possible due to parasites that might be lurking in the water,” explains Dr Daniel Cichi, from Doctor4U.

Pool water is treated with chlorine to keep germs and bacteria at bay, making it safe to swim in.

However, there are still some dangerous microbes that can take days for chlorine to kill, meaning that there’s a window of opportunity for them to enter your body and make you ill.

“Some of the most common strains of bacteria and parasites that are notoriously tough to kill include E.coli, giardia, and shigella,” Dr Cichi continues.

“But, the worst culprit for causing recreational water illnesses is cryptosporidium – often shortened to Crypto.”

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And, you won’t believe the Crypto causing culprit *horrified face emoji*

“Most of the bacteria that can make us unwell come from faecal matter – in other words, residual poo that already contains the parasites,” explains Dr Cichi.

“This can be transferred into pool water by other swimmers that have either recently had diarrhoea, or aren’t fully clean before entering the pool.

Dr Cichi says that If swallowed, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as an upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramping and diarrhoea, which may seem similar to food poisoning or stomach flu.

“However, before blaming the meal that you had the night before, you should think about whether you recently ingested any pool water,” he adds.

What really happens to your body if you swallow pool water? [Photo: Getty]
What really happens to your body if you swallow pool water? [Photo: Getty]

And poo isn’t the only nasty lurking in the water.

“Unfortunately, it’s also fairly common for urine to be present in pool water, and whilst it might not contain the harmful bacteria that faecal matter does, it can cause eye discomfort such as redness and itching when it comes into contact with chlorine,” Dr Cichi continues.

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There are some other risks of accidentally glugging pool water too.

“If you ingest a large amount of pool water, there’s a chance that you may experience mild chlorine poisoning,” Dr Cichi warns.

Though, this isn’t all that common, and is much more likely to happen from accidentally ingesting cleaning chemicals, it is still important to be aware of the symptoms in case you end up with more pool water in your body than you’d bargained for.

“The main signs of chlorine poisoning include: burning in the mouth, swollen and painful throat, stomach pain, vomiting, and blood in your stools,” Dr Cichi says.

“If you notice any of these symptoms after ingesting pool water, it’s important to get urgent medical health.”

Before you swear of swimming pools for the rest of summer, there are some steps you can take to ensure you and your little ones stay germ-free.

“To stay safe in any pool, it’s important to adopt good hygiene before diving in,” explains Dr Cichi.

That includes taking a shower before you swim and not getting into a pool if you’ve had diarrhoea at all in the last fortnight.

“You should also stay out of the water if you have an open wound, avoid placing non-potty-trained babies and toddlers into a public pool, and try not to ingest any of the water,” Dr Cichi adds.

Happy swimming folks.