I love to have a swim in the hotel pool as soon as I have arrived. It’s a confirmation the holiday proper has started.  However, I’m mindful that you just don’t know what is in the water even if it looks fabulous. The last thing you want on holiday is diarrhea or be unwell with an ear infection.

Did you know that pools are commonly contaminated by feces and urine, Yes Poo and Wee!. Small kids are not always as well informed to get out the pool before or report that an accident has happened. The pool water monitoring schedule and treatment of the water, will have a bearing on the health of those swimming, but that is no guarantee.

What do we really know about the germs we may find in the holiday pool or hot tub. One of the notorious of these is cryptosporidium which resists chlorine and disinfectants. An NBC news article published this May highlighted the problem in the USA.

Ear infections know as “Swimmers Ear” and more technically “Otitis Externa” is a major cause of concern. The infection occurs in the outer part of the ear canal and can cause pain, discharge, and discomfort. It is reported that in the United States an estimated 2.4 billion health care visits every year and then a half a billion dollars in Healthcare costs as a result of ear infections.

Taking responsibility for your health and the health of your family and especially of your children is imperative. Here are some things you can do to diminish the risks and still enjoy the water, be it on holiday or at your local pool.

  • Use a bathing cap, earplugs or custom-fitted swimming earplugs to keep your ears as dry as possible.
  • Shower thoroughly with soap after swimming to get rid of most of the micro-particles on your skin from the water.
  • Avoid getting water in your mouth and discourage children from drinking the water.
  • Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering. Tilting your head to hold each ear facing down will allow water to escape.
  • Don’t put objects in your ear including cotton swabs, pencils, hair clips, or fingers down your ear to try to remove earwax. Wax is actually good for your ear in small amounts. It protects your ear from infection as it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Consult a healthcare professional for advice on using ear drops before and after swimming.
  • Ask your pool/hot tub operator if the water is checked at least twice per day and properly disinfected.
  • See a doctor if you have symptoms such as diarrhea, sore ears, discharge, and severe itching.

For more information on the health risks associated with swimming pools and hot tubs, check out the following resources:

Happy Holidays!