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Pools and summertime are the best of friends. But experts are stressing the importance of controlling a potentially dangerous health risk – drinking the pool water.

It’s very common for people, especially children, to get water in their mouths. Although swallowing a small amount of pool water has been deemed harmless by doctors, it’s important to realize that ingesting too much can lead to very dangerous situations.

Chlorine poisoning. Otherwise known as recreational water illness, chlorine poisoning occurs when someone swallows or breathes in (inhales) chlorine.

Secondary drowning. A condition where water is inhaled into their lungs.

Bacterial/parasite infection. Chlorine is used to help get rid of bacteria such as E. coli and parasites, but it may not eliminate all of them.

The Warning Signs of A Pool Problem

Here are some of pool-related symptoms to be aware of. If you recognize any of these warning signs within 72 hours of swimming, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Persistent cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fatigue

As the hours pass, recreational water illness, chlorine poisoning and secondary drowning become more distinct conditions with more specific and severe symptoms, according to experts.

Recreational water illness and chlorine poisoning may lead to digestive distress, such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea. These conditions may seem like a bad case of food poisoning or stomach flu.

Chlorine poisoning may also cause symptoms in the nervous and respiratory systems. Vision trouble, as well as swelling and burning may also develop in their eyes, throat, nose and ears.

Secondary drowning has a greater effect on the respiratory system. Symptoms may include trouble breathing and heavy, wet-sounding, persistent coughs, and uncontrollable shivering, as well as hot and cold flashes.

Prevention Tips for Children

In additional to warning your children about the dangers of drinking pool water, here are some secondary steps to take:

  • Once a child is finished swimming, check for redness and irritation around the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. This could be a sign that chlorine levels were too high.
  • Listen for a nagging cough. If a child who has been swimming develops a cough that does not go away, it could be a sign that the child swallowed too much water or inhaled it.
  • Be on alert for flu-like symptoms. If a child develops symptoms of the flu or food poisoning after swimming, seek immediate medical attention.