Aug 11 2019

Know what’s beneath the surface before jumping in that beautiful ocean or lake.

Published by at 12:25 pm under Drinking Water

Know what’s beneath the surface before jumping in that beautiful ocean or lake.
Don’t let contaminated water spoil your fun this summer.   

There is nothing more delightful than jumping in the cool ocean or a refreshing lake during the height of summer. It’s a sure way to cool off, experience pure joy, and forget about life for awhile. Beneath that surface is a beautiful silent world teeming with vegetation and a variety of fish and other critters. Protecting these bodies of water is crucial so that we may continue to enjoy them for years to come.

Swimmers beware. There are some unwanted critters swimming around that we cannot see. And for that reason, it is important to take precautions when hitting the beach, lake or pool this summer to make sure you leave as healthy as you came. *

Have you ever experienced an ear infection, sinus infection or stomach bug after swimming in the ocean, lake or a swimming pool? There may be a very good reason for this. “…Research, done by the Environment America Research and Policy Center, analyzed 2018 bacteria testing data from more than 4,500 beaches in 29 coastal and Great Lakes states as well as Puerto Rico. The results showed that 2,620 sites had at least one day of fecal contamination higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Beach Action Value.”…”1*

With this level of contamination, the EPA estimates that 32 out of every 1,000 swimmers may catch some sort of illness, be it respiratory or stomach “…Swimming in contaminated water causes up to 57 million illnesses each year, according to researchers…” For that reason, the EPA recommends that in cases of contamination, the public should be made aware through posted warning signs to forewarn swimmers of the possible risk. Yet, the decision to post warnings are made at the local level, and each state has its own beach safety standards. So even though beachgoers may be at risk, the beaches won’t be closed if a state doesn’t follow the Beach Action Value, or follow a higher threshold for safety.(1,2,3)*

“…Our data doesn’t tell us why the beaches are polluted, but we know that sewage overflows and storm water runoff tend to happen in large metropolitan areas. When it rains, the water has nowhere to go on developed landscapes like parking lots and sidewalks. It runs off into the street, pulling bacteria and chemicals along with it. That contaminated rainwater flows into the nearest waterway, or into the sewer. In some large cities, that’s enough to overwhelm the sewer system, which releases raw, untreated sewage. That, too, flows to the nearest waterway…”2*

So what happens if you swim in contaminated water? What should you look for? And how can you avoid it? First of all, don’t swallow the water. Don’t open your eyes under water, and try not to get it up your nose. Here are some of the problems you might encounter from swimming in water with high bacteria levels: (1,2)*

Digestive Problems are the more commonly reported ailment by those after swimming in contaminated water, usually due to a parasite like cryptosporidium or girardia. Norovirus, E. colii or shigella can also cause digestive troubles. (1,2)*

You can get Conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye) by swimming in the same pool with someone who has it. Pink eye  makes your eyes turn red, swell up and excrete a yellow fluid. Also caused by chemicals, pool chlorine can sometimes lead to a mild version. (1,2)*

For those that spend lots of time in the water, Swimmers Ear can be a problem. The skin breaks down more easily when it is moist and allows bacteria to move in. (1,2)*

Beware of hot tubs too. If you breathe in a bacteria called legionella, you can get a type of pneumonia called legionellosis or Legionnaire’s Disease. This germ can thrive in unclean hot tubs and is inhaled through mist or steam. It’s one of the most common waterborne illnesses in the U.S. (1,2)*

If after a long soak in a hot tub you get itchy, bumpy, red spots, or Hot Tub Rash, you may have been exposed to a germ called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. High temperatures break down chemicals like chlorine faster than in a regular pool, which makes hot tubs a hot bed for this bacteria. Showering with soap immediately after being in a hot tub and washing your swim suit will help prevent this rash. (1,2)*


Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) happen when algae plants grow out of control in either oceans or fresh water, releasing toxins. Every U.S. state with a coastline has had them. These can give you diarrhea, rashes and lung problems. If an area looks scummy or foamy, avoid it. Also, look for signs warning of HABs. (1,2)*


Swimmer’s Itch is caused by a tiny parasite that lives in both fresh and saltwater which burrows into the skin and causes a rash called cercarial dermatitis. It comes from infected snails, and you’re more likely to find these in shallow water near the shoreline. Avoid marshy places and always rinse off after you’ve been in a lake or ocean. (1,2)*


Leptospirosis are bacteria that live in lakes and rivers where infected animals have urinated. The germs enter your body through your eyes, nose, mouth, or a cut.  More common in warmer climates and where flooding from heavy rains occur, symptoms include diarrhea, red eyes, headache, fever, and jaundice (yellowish skin or eyes caused by a problem with your liver). (1,2)*

There are certain organisms that live in warm coastal waters that can get in an open wound or cut and cause an infection called Vibriosis. Vibrio vulnificus, are sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria” and though very rare, it can cause skin ulcers and lead to serious problems, especially if your immune system is weak. Therefore, avoid swimming in contaminated ocean water if you have a cut, scrape, or recent tattoo.(1,2)*

Take these precautions to avoid waterborne diseases:

  • Look for signs that may be posted regarding high levels of bacteria or other contamination in the water
  • Don’t  go into lakes, rivers, oceans, swimming pools or hot tubs if you have an open wound
  • Take a shower after going in the water
  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea to protect others
  • Avoid water that looks murky or discolored or that has a strong chemical smell
  • Keep your immune system strong by taking Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ so you are less likely to be affected by bad bacteria that you encounter. We are less vulnerable when our immune systems are strong!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, play in the water, but please be safe doing it!

Healthiest wishes,




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