What Parents Need to Know About Public Pools


The temperatures are absolutely scorching -what’s the best way to cool off? One of your first thoughts is probably “a dip in the pool.” If you don’t have a pool of your own, a public pool is a great alternative…except that it might make your children’s allergies or asthma even worse. Read on to learn about how that dip in the pool might be more harmful than you realized.

The Connection between Swimming and Allergies

“How could swimming in a pool possibly be bad for you?” you may ask. “It’s good exercise. Besides, there’s plenty of chlorine in public pools to kill any germs.”

The very ingredient that kills germs can actually lead to allergies or asthma. In 2009, Belgian researchers examined the effects of swimming in chlorinated pools on children. They discovered that children with allergies had a higher likelihood of developing asthma and other respiratory ailments. The odds of adolescents with allergies developing hay fever were 3.3 to 6.6-fold higher for those who swam in chlorinated pools for over 100 hours, and allergic rhinitis increased 2.2 to 3.5-fold for those who swam in chlorinated pools for over 1000 hours.

Ironically, the very chemicals used to keep pools clean can make people feel sick. Indoor pools are an especial culprit, because chemical fumes become trapped in a confined space. Chloramines, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, can cause stinging eyes, nasal irritation, and even difficulty breathing.

Chlorine and Skin Irritation

Aside from its relationship to allergies and asthma, chlorine exposure can have negative effects on the outside of your body, too.

Chlorine is a strong chemical. It does a great job of disinfecting, but it can also dry out skin. For people who are really sensitive to chlorine, their skin can break out in itchy, red bumps (known as irritant dermatitis).

Food Allergies at the Pool

One of the things you have to think about when you go to the pool isn’t actually in the water. If your kids have food allergies, some of the biggest dangers at the pool might be on the deck.

A child with an allergy to certain foods might not even need to eat the food in order to experience a reaction. Some kids will break out in an itchy red rash if they so much as touch their allergen. This reaction isn’t uncommon with peanuts and tree nuts.

Let’s say your child has a food allergy but doesn’t know it. If your kid accepts food from someone else, he or she might break out in a rash, become nauseous, have diarrhea or start to vomit. Sometimes, food allergy reactions can affect the respiratory tract. Eating food to which you’re allergic can cause a runny  nose; itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; or even an asthma attack.

Really severe allergic reactions can cause anaphylactic shock. That means your airways swell and you can’t breathe. Your blood pressure also drops, and you can lose consciousness. In incredibly rare cases, some people go into anaphylactic shock simply by breathing in particles of peanuts or tree nuts when those particles circulate in enclosed spaces. It’s important to get tested.

Allergy Awareness at the Pool

Your children shouldn’t give up swimming in public pools because of allergies. However, it’s important to be aware of the presence of allergens inside and outside the water. Even kids with allergies can safely enjoy public pools. Get their allergies under control so your children can live a normal, active life.

Choose the Expert in Nasal Allergy Treatment So You Can Enjoy the Summer

Dr. Nguyen is a national expert in the treatment of nasal allergies. Let us use the newest technology and our vast experience to customize a solution for your health needs. Houston Sinus and Allergy has over a decade of experience in treating nasal allergies. Our practice has won numerous awards, including being voted the Living Best of Reader’s Choice Award in 2015.

You can reach us by calling (832) 237-7777, or fill out the form at the top of the page to book an assessment to start feeling better!

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