Common Illnesses that can be Acquired through Swimming

Swimming Common Illnesses

By: Dr. Masoud Esfahani


Cryptosporidium is one of the common diseases that can be acquired in recreational bathing that can cause respiratory or gastrointestinal conditions. The person infected with this will experience symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea (gastrointestinal cryptosporidium)
  • Nonpersistent or persistent cough (respiratory cryptosporidium)
This illness can be treated through fluid and electrolyte replacement and pain management (if any). Anti parasitic medications can be also used as a treatment for Cryptosporidium.


This is a bacterial infection caused by a Gram-negative bacteria called “Shigella”. This bacteria is closely related to E. coli. This can be acquire if the water or food is contaminated by an infected feces. Symptoms are experienced 1 to 2 days after exposure which includes:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and in other occasion
  • Blood in the stool
This is managed by fluid and electrolyte replacement.

Escherichia coli Infection

This is one of the common infections that can be caught in a contaminated water or food.  E. coli can be transmitted by fecal or oral route.

Symptoms may include:

  • Acute to severe diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomforts
Low immune system people are commonly infected by this disease such as the elderly and children. Regular and thorough hand washing is highly encouraged especially before and after eating.

Otitis externa

Otitis externa is an infection that is common with swimmers. This is characterized by an inflammation of the ear canal. This is also known as “swimmer’s ear”.  Ear pain is commonly the complaint of the infected person. It can be also experience:

  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Ear discharged and
  • Hearing (may be compromised)
Burow’s solution is a very effective treatment for this.

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