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What to Do if You Get Water in Your Mouth from Pools or the Ocean

ICCSmilesJuly2015

Swimming is a perfect recreational activity during the warm summer season. However, some safety precautions are advised whenever you go out to swim, especially if you have kids with you. When you go swimming, whether in the ocean or at a swimming pool, there’s always a chance to accidentally swallow the water. Is this something you should be worried about?

 

Pool Water: What’s In It?

A pool is made for recreation and it is often located in an open area. To keep bacteria and various microorganisms from contaminating the open pool water, chlorine is applied to the water before people are allowed to swim in it. The concentration of chlorine used in public pools is 12-95% because it will be diluted in a huge volume of water, as compared to other cleaning agents which only have around 3-5% chlorine concentration. By applying chlorine in the water, the bacteria found in the bodies of all the people swimming in the pool will be controlled and this will keep the water from becoming infested.

 

What Happens When You Drink Pool Water?

For adults, it’s not a problem to control yourself from drinking pool water. Children, on the other hand, may be more than curious and try to get a sip or two from the pool. Because of the chlorine content of pool water, it’s not safe for ingestion. The chemicals may burn the throat, eyes, ears, and nose, and cause an upset stomach. This is known as chlorine poisoning.

 

Apart from that, although chlorine is meant to kill bacteria, not all kinds of bacteria are eliminated by this chemical. E. coli is a strong bacterium that can resist chlorination and continue to thrive in pool water. When you swallow too much pool water, you could end up with recreational water illness (RWI) which is similar to a stomach flu. You may get a fever and start vomiting because of this.

 

Accidental inhalation of water into the lungs can also happen when you’re swimming, which is medically known as secondary drowning. Children are more prone to this because they are not yet 100% capable of controlling their breath. Secondary drowning can cause hot and cold flashes, persistent coughing, and difficulty breathing. To prevent this, don’t let kids swim in deep water and always keep an eye on their activities.

 

How about Drinking Seawater?

The reason why seawater tastes salty is because it has high levels of salt in it. When ingested in large quantities, salt can be dehydrating, so drinking seawater would ironically leave you more dehydrated and thirstier than before you drank it. Apart from that, too much salt in the body can cause kidney problems because our bodies are not capable of processing excessive sodium. Although there’s a way to transform seawater to potable water, it’s time-consuming and impractical, especially if you have easy access to clean drinking water.

 

What to Do When Someone Accidentally Drinks Too Much Pool/Seawater

In the event that a family member or loved one drinks too much pool or seawater, it’s best to bring that person to the emergency room right away. Getting immediate medical attention can prevent the complications associated with chlorine poisoning, recreational water illness, secondary drowning, and dehydration.

 

If a prominent throat problem is seen in the patient, you can bring him or her to Dana Keith DDS for Emergency Oral Care. We handle patients who experience trouble breathing, pain in the mouth and throat, and other oral problems. You can visit us at our New Hampshire clinic or you can give us a call at (301) 302-0920.

 

Stay safe this summer and make swimming a fun and worry-free activity!

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