Taking a dip in a hot tub right after a long and tiring day is one of the many ways you can relax. Aside from giving you that relaxing feeling, it also loosens all those tense muscles throughout your body, not to mention it can help boost your immune system.
However, have you ever thought of the possibility that you can get sick by taking a dip in a hot tub? In this article, we’re going to find out if that can even happen; and in case it does, then how?
Is it possible to get sick from dipping in a hot tub?
The answer to that is no. No, you can’t get sick just by taking a dip. However, they can easily transmit diseases, and a poorly maintained hot tub can cause a number of infections. Just like any recreational water activity, the possibility of getting sick from a hot tub is always present. Fortunately, there are ways you can mitigate, if not prevent, the risks of infection and continue to relax in your hot tub like you normally would.
Generally, a hot tub is considered safe for use when:
- It has a clean and clear water with a slightly blue tint
- It doesn’t emit any strong odor
- The hot tub equipment is clearly audible
- The walls are clean and smooth
Knowing if a hot tub is properly maintained can prevent you from contracting a disease in the first place. If you choose to dip in a public hot tub, it’s recommended to ask the attendant when the most recent health inspection was conducted, what the inspection score was, how frequent they change the water, and their daily cleaning schedule. Alternatively, you can bring test strips to test for the water’s pH and chlorine levels.
A properly maintained hot tub should have a chlorine level of between 2-4 parts per million (ppm) and a pH level of between 7.2-7.8. You can also use your sense of smell to detect if a hot tub is properly sanitized or not. If there’s a strong chemical odor, such as chlorine or other chemicals, then it’s not properly sanitized.
What’s the danger of a poorly sanitized hot tub?
Illnesses and infections that are due to a poorly sanitized hot tub are not uncommon. In fact, they can happen in various bodies of water such as in the sea, public pools, swimming holes, and hot tubs. After all, water is a very hospitable environment for viruses, bacteria, and parasites to thrive and multiply.
One of the most common illnesses you can get from water-borne contaminants include vomiting and diarrhea. These are often caused by parasites, viruses, and bacteria such as E.coli, norovirus, and Giardia. In most cases, they occur when you accidentally swallowed contaminated water.
Another common illness which you can get when dipping in hot tubs is “hot tub rash”, likewise known as Pseudomonas dermatitis or Pseudomonas folliculitis. It is an infection which resembles chicken pox and results in itchy and bumpy red rashes. Fortunately, it’s often minor and will go away after a few days even without treatment. There are also other infections such as Legionnaire’s disease and Cryptosporidium.
How can you protect yourself?
Fortunately, there are some preventative measures you can follow to keep yourself protected from sickness brought by water-borne contaminants in a hot tub. Keep in mind that routine maintenance and sanitation of your hot tub can get rid of almost all risks. That said, here are ways you can protect yourself:
- Make sure you wash before and after you get into the hot tub.
- Use test strips to test the chemical levels of a hot tub before using. Make sure that it contains 2-4 ppm chlorine level, 4-6 ppm bromine level, and 7.2-7.8 pH level.
- As much as possible, prevent water from getting into your mouth.
- Maintain your hot tub’s water temperature at 104 degrees or lower.
- Maintain the hot tub on a regular basis. Don’t forget to replace the water and the filter at regular intervals.
- Use a high dose of sanitizer to “shock” the water after using. This will prevent bacteria from multiplying after each use.
- Lastly, make sure you install your hot tub outdoors as exposing it to open air will reduce the risks of contracting Legionnaire’s disease, considering that it only happens whenever you inhale mist from the water.