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Can COPD Patients Swim Safely?

Last updated: March 2023

In the past, I used to swim like a fish. My kids could never understand how I could hold my breath under the water for long periods of time with my lungs being so bad.

We would have races under the water and see who could go back and forth the most. I always won. I don’t know how, but I did.

We loved the water. Playing different games together and just enjoying our time in the pool over the summers.

We also loved the hot tub. It was especially helpful after a hard day of work when my body ached. I could sit and soak in the hot water forever.

What you should know about hot tubs

One thing that I didn't pick up on until later is that I often got sick with a cold, bronchitis, lung infection, etc., after using pools and hot tubs. I finally decided that there was a connection and read more about it.

Some common negative side effects of the hot tub that I read about are:

  • Hot tub rash- an infection caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Legionnaires’ disease- Legionella is a germ that causes the disease. Steam from the contaminated hot tub water transports germs that cause severe pneumonia.
  • Illness from parasites- Some microorganisms can tolerate chlorine and remain in the tub.
  • Cryptosporidium and giardia- Parasites that cause cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis. Diarrhea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps, and dehydration are common symptoms of these.
  • Shigellosis and E. coli- Common and can be easily spread by contaminated hot tub water. Symptoms may include fever, diarrhea, cramps, and stomach pain.

Common chemicals in pool water that can get more concentrated indoors may make it harder on your lungs. In outdoor pools, the chlorine dissipates quickly, but indoor pools keep it more contained. This chlorine concentration can be a problem.

Issues with indoor pools

Another problem associated with indoor pools is airway hyperresponsiveness, which can be seen in asthma, which occurs when the bronchial tubes in the lungs spasm abnormally and can lead to coughing and tightness in the chest.

I have heard that taking infants and toddlers, whose lungs aren’t​ mature yet, to indoor pools could potentially lead to a higher incidence of allergies or asthma. I also read that if you can smell chlorine, there is too much in there and it will affect your lungs even more.

A few years ago, I found out that they make saltwater pools and hot tubs. I had no idea.

These are much better for us, and if I were to buy a pool (not that I could afford it), I would definitely choose a saltwater pool. Now, there is still chlorine in a saltwater pool, but it is chlorine generated that creates free chlorine.

The salt converts it to chlorine, but it is naturally made and needed to keep the pool clean of bacteria, etc. The chlorine that is added to the normal pool has extra filler additives to it that are not good for us.

I hope that this has informed you enough, and if you have any thoughts or tips, that you respond in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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