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July 29, 2023

When Swimming Makes You Sick: How to Stay Healthy in the Water

Swimming, a popular recreational and fitness activity, is often associated with numerous health benefits. However, aquatic environments can also expose swimmers to various health risks. This article provides a detailed examination of the symptoms related to swimming-related illnesses, effective prevention strategies, and remedies.

What Symptoms Can You Experience After Swimming?

Swimming in pools or natural bodies of water can lead to several health issues. Awareness of these symptoms is crucial for timely intervention and treatment.

What Are the Common Symptoms After Pool Swimming?

  • Flu-like Symptoms: These include fatigue, body aches, and general malaise.
  • Respiratory Issues: A runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing can result from exposure to chlorinated water or allergens in natural water bodies.
  • Headaches and Congestion: Often caused by extended exposure to chlorinated water or intense physical activity.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Can be a reaction to swallowed pool water or an indication of waterborne illnesses.

How Can You Recognize Serious Symptoms After Swimming?

  • Fever and Chills: Might indicate an infection or an allergic reaction to certain microbes in the water.
  • Low-grade Fever and Vomiting: Particularly concerning in children, these symptoms may require immediate medical attention.

What Should You Consider for Children’s Health Post-Swimming?

  • Increased Susceptibility: Children’s immune systems are still developing, making them more vulnerable to infections.
  • Signs of Illness: Persistent fever, irritability, loss of appetite, and unusual lethargy after swimming should prompt a medical consultation.

What Causes Fever After Swimming?

Investigating the potential causes and preventative measures for fever following swimming activities is essential for health and safety.

How Can You Understand and Prevent Fever After Swimming?

  • Causes: Bacterial or viral infections from contaminated water are common culprits.
  • Prevention: Good personal hygiene and avoiding swallowing pool water are key preventive measures.

How Do You Manage a Child’s Fever After Pool Time?

  • Home Care: Ensuring hydration and rest, monitoring temperature, and using fever reducers as recommended by a pediatrician.
  • Medical Consultation: If symptoms persist or worsen, seeking professional medical advice is crucial.

What Are the Health Concerns Related to Swimming?

Understanding and addressing common health concerns associated with swimming is vital for all swimmers.

Why Does Swimming Sometimes Lead to Sickness?

  • Pool Water and Illness: Chlorine-resistant pathogens can survive and cause illness.
  • Chlorine Sensitivity: Some individuals may have allergic reactions to chlorine, leading to respiratory issues and skin irritation.

What Are the Preventive Measures for Swimming-Related Illnesses?

  • Avoiding Illness: Adherence to proper hygiene and showering before and after swimming can reduce risks.
  • Swimming With a Cold: Generally, swimming with a mild cold is safe if symptoms are above the neck, but resting is advised if symptoms are more severe.

How Does Swimming in Different Water Conditions Affect Your Health?

  • Risks and Precautions: Different water bodies have unique microbial profiles, necessitating tailored precautionary measures.

What Are the Effects of Chlorine on Swimmers?

Chlorine, used to disinfect pool water, can have varying impacts on swimmer’s health.

How Can You Understand and Manage the Risks of Chlorine Poisoning?

  • Symptoms: Itching, red skin, coughing, and eye irritation are common symptoms.
  • Treatment: Removal from exposure, thorough rinsing, and seeking medical advice for severe reactions.

What Are the Best Practices for Healthy Swimming?

Proactive measures are critical for a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.

What Care Should Be Taken Before and After Swimming?

  • Hygiene Practices: Showering before and after swimming minimizes the risk of waterborne diseases.
  • Post-Swim Care: Hydration and monitoring for any delayed symptoms.

How Can You Create and Maintain a Healthy Swimming Environment?

  • Maintenance Tips: Regular pool maintenance and water quality testing are essential for preventing waterborne illnesses.

Recap of Key Points

To sum up, experiencing flu-like symptoms post-swimming can stem from multiple sources, notably subpar water conditions and insufficient upkeep of pools. Implementing preventive measures like thoroughly showering before and after your swim and being cautious not to ingest water can significantly diminish the likelihood of contracting infections. This proactive approach ensures that your time spent swimming remains both enjoyable and health-conscious.


1. Why do I feel flu-like symptoms after swimming in a pool?

Exposure to certain bacteria or chlorine can trigger an immune response, resulting in flu-like symptoms.

2. Can chlorine in pool water cause a sore throat or runny nose?

Yes, chlorine and other chemicals can irritate the respiratory tract, leading to these symptoms.

3. Is it common to experience a headache after swimming, and how can I prevent it?

Headaches can result from chlorine exposure, dehydration, or physical strain. Staying hydrated and avoiding overexertion can help.

4. Why does my child frequently get a fever after swimming in a pool?

Children might develop fevers due to waterborne infections or hypersensitivity to pool chemicals. Monitoring pool hygiene and consulting a pediatrician if fevers are recurrent is recommended.

5. How can I distinguish between a common cold and symptoms caused by swimming?

Symptoms caused by swimming, such as irritation from chlorine, usually appear shortly after swimming and are often related to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Colds tend to develop gradually and include systemic symptoms like body aches.

6. What should I do if I feel nauseous after swimming?

Rest and hydrate well. If nausea persists or worsens, seek medical attention, as it could indicate a more serious infection.

7. Can swimming in the ocean make me sick differently than a pool?

Yes, ocean water contains different types of bacteria and microorganisms. Swallowing ocean water or exposure to contaminated water can lead to illnesses different from those typically associated with chlorinated pools.

8. Is it safe to swim if I have a mild fever or should I wait until it subsides?

It’s safer to wait until a fever subsides before swimming. Swimming with a fever can exacerbate symptoms and increase the risk of spreading infection.

9. How can I prevent my child from getting sick after swimming?

Ensure they shower before and after swimming, discourage swallowing pool water, and choose well-maintained swimming facilities.

10. What are the signs of chlorine poisoning from swimming pools?

Symptoms include skin irritation, coughing, burning eyes, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing. Immediate removal from exposure and medical consultation are advised for severe reactions.

11. Can swimming worsen my existing cold and congestion?

Swimming can aggravate symptoms of a cold, especially in chlorinated pools. It’s best to rest until symptoms improve.

12. Why do I feel sick after swimming in both chlorinated and saltwater pools?

Feeling sick after swimming in different water bodies could be due to sensitivity to chlorine, other chemicals, or exposure to bacteria and viruses present in natural water bodies.

13. Is there a risk of getting sick from swallowing pool water while swimming?

Yes, swallowing pool water can introduce harmful bacteria and chemicals into the body, leading to gastrointestinal or other infections.

14. What immediate steps should I take if I feel unwell after swimming?

Rest, hydrate, and monitor your symptoms. If they persist or worsen, seek medical attention.

15. How long should I wait to swim after recovering from an illness?

Wait until you’re symptom-free for at least 24-48 hours to prevent the spread of infection and ensure your body is fully recovered.

Leave a comment

We welcome your experiences and tips for healthy swimming. Sharing your insights helps enrich our community’s knowledge and promotes a safer swimming environment for everyone.

Updated 18.12.2023

Guest article.
The above may not coincide with the methodology and opinion of the SwimRight Academy Team.

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