Swimming warning about pneumonia risk
ABU DHABI // About half of all respiratory patients in an Abu Dhabi hospital are suffering from pneumonia – and many of them caught the illness by swimming in warm and dirty swimming pools.
Dr Trilok Chand, specialist in respiratory medicine at Burjeel Hospital, said among all patients, 20-30 per cent of the cases are to do with these infections and allergies.
And he added that “pneumonia counts for almost 50 per cent of the respiratory cases we are getting in the emergency department which require hospitalisation”.
Although the hot weather made it tempting to take a dip, doctors said as well as the risk of catching pneumonia swimmers were also in danger of catching other illnesses such as colds, influenza, allergic conditions, asthma, sinusitis and ear infections.
Increased bacteria and allergens in the air due to high humidity was a potential cause of these infections, said Dr Chand.
“Swimming pools are hotbeds for germs that cause colds and flu. These bugs thrive in hot, humid and wet conditions and pose a risk not just to children but also adults,” he said.
“Often water gets trapped in the ears after swimming, and if not drained, can be the perfect environment for germs. Once the infection sets in, children and adults could experience ear pain and other symptoms.”
Making sure to swim in a clean pool was a way to prevent infections, he said. He also advised children to wear ear plugs while swimming and not get in the water if they had a cold.
“Drying up as soon as one is out of the pool is important. Ensure that you get enough vitamins, especially vitamin E and C, to build your immunity. Avoid going to crowded places to avoid infections, or spreading the infection if you are sick,” he said.
Many people suffer from the flu due to compromised immunity and poor air circulation in air-conditioned spaces.
Dr Qais Hameed, head of the paediatric department at Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said: “It may be that they are not taking precautions.”
Swimming can lead to ear infections. He said two or three cases of ear infections were seen by the hospital every week.
“One of the most common reasons is that the outer ear is not clean. Bacteria in the water can cause irritation in the ear canal if the water is not clean. Some people have sensitive ears and they have to take precautions like using ear plugs,” he said.
The doctor also warned people not to go swimming when the sun was at its hottest at noon.
“If people want to go for a swim, the best time is either in the early morning or in the evening,” he said.
Dr Medhat Abu Shaaban, consultant paediatrician at myPediaclinic in Dubai Healthcare City, said he had noticed an increase in the number of chest and nose allergies.
He had also recently seen a number of throat infections and pneumonia recently.
He asked parents not to let their children go diving as that could cause inflammation in the outer canal of the ear.
He also recommended drying the water left in the outer ear immediately after swimming, as that could prevent infections.
Published: August 9, 2016 04:00 AM