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Common Illnesses that Affect Water Sport Enthusiasts

29 October 2013 | 2:22 pm

Some of the world’s oceans, lakes, rivers, and beaches can be quite dirty due to pollution, water contamination, and litter and debris. Within the last five years, 18,000 beaches within the U.S. were closed because of pollution, and, in 2009, there were 18,682 days of closures and notices as a result of water contamination at beaches throughout the United States. As surfers and lovers of the water, we spend a significant amount of time in the water and on the beaches, exposing us to a number of viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can carry a range of diseases.

Common Illnesses that Affect Water Sport Enthusiasts

Swimmers and surfers are often affected by skin, eye, ear, feet, and respiratory problems while partaking in water sports. From large scale illnesses like Staph infections to miner annoyances such as swimmer’s ear, those who enjoy playing in the water can catch many different diseases. While you sh
ouldn’t jump out of the water and end your fun at sea just yet, you should still be cautious when you venture out. Make sure you choose your surfing spot carefully, picking an area where the sand and water undergo regular analysis by sanitary officials. In addition, read up on the most common diseases you can contract at the beach or in the ocean before you get in the water.

Common Illnesses that Affect Water Sport Enthusiasts


Many beaches are polluted with blood and syringes and the improper disposal of red and hazardous wastes spread a variety of diseases.Hepatitis is major problem for water sport participants. Although not much can be done to prevent the unsuitable disposal of needles or the spread of Hepatitis through our beaches and waters, you can still avoid catching this disease. Make sure that you find out as much information about the area where you plan to play before you go, paying close attention to details surrounding drug abuse in the area.

Enteric Bacteria

Transmitted by storm water and sewage run-off, enteric bacteria are created when beaches become contaminated with fecal pollution known as enterococci. Once in your system, this bacterium contaminates the intestinal tracts and causes gastroenteritis, which can have life threatening consequences. Again, protect yourself by investigating the area before you head out.

Legionnaire’s Disease

This respiratory illness grows is a form of pneumonia that grows in warm waters. Swimmers contract it by inhaling mist or vapor contaminated with the bacteria. Symptoms include a high fever, muscle aches, and coughing.

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Typically known as pink eye, “conjunctivitis” is one of the most frequently spread eye infections and is normally contracted in water. Contact lens wearers especially must be vigilant when spending time at the beach or in the water as eye conditions like pink eye can be particularly detrimental to those who frequently touch their eyes. The best way to guard against this type of infection is by properly cleaning lenses after each use. Additional eye care tips, including how to correctly clean your contact lenses, are available from Acuvue.

Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa)

This is an infection that is quite common among active water athletes during the summer and in humid environments. Swimmer’s ear affects the external auditory ear canal and is the result of the skin’s inability to act as a barrier in the canal. Although it’s irritating, swimmer’s ear can easily be remedied with over-the-counter medications. To prevent swimmer’s ear, invest in a pair of Mack’s AquaBlock ear plugs to wear while you’re in the water.

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