Thursday,October 22,2020 08:19 AM

Before you take a plunge

By Vision Reporter

Added 2nd May 2010 03:00 AM

PETER Zamukama is a student who loves swimming. However, every after a plunge into the pool, his skin colour changes and his fingers become flaccid for about two hours.

PETER Zamukama is a student who loves swimming. However, every after a plunge into the pool, his skin colour changes and his fingers become flaccid for about two hours.

By John Agaba
PETER Zamukama is a student who loves swimming. However, every after a plunge into the pool, his skin colour changes and his fingers become flaccid for about two hours.

Like Zamukama, many people react to pool water and many times, it is a result of swimming in contaminated water. “I don’t have to ask a pool attendant when the water was last chemically treated,” Zamukama argues. “That is not my responsibility.”

When a pool is poorly attended
to, the water becomes contaminated, exposing the users to skin and water-borne diseases. Risks

Dr. Joseph Woira Kavule of Rubaga Hospital, says contaminated pools make one prone to stomach and intestinal infections like dysentery, diarrhoea and typhoid. One of the commonest symptoms is stomachache.

Author Richard Guerrant, in his book, Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, says people with dysentery suffer from high fever, headache and abdominal pain. They also pass foul-smelling watery stool.

Guerrant says typhoid could result in intestinal bleeding if untreated and the patient excretes bloody faeces. Reuben Kiggundu of Mulago Hospital Medical School says complications of dysentery include ulcers and intestinal perforation (holes).

Persistent diarrhoea is difficult to treat and can be fatal. Apart from stomach and intestine diseases, swimmers are likely to contract ear infections. The commonest is swimmers ear, which affects the ear canal. In this case, it is recommended that one wears ear protective gear, however, these work best when the ears are dry.

When exposed to excess moisture, the protective gear may cause bacterial growth. The infection manifests within 24 hours after swimming in a contaminated pool. Symptoms include itching, pain, a feeling of fullness and a ringing sound in the ears.

Kiggundu says severe complication
of swimmers ear can cause meningitis, an inflammation of the the thin, membranous (meninges) covering the
brain and spinal cord.

Contaminated pool water causes irritation of the eyes, especially among people who wear contact lenses. The condition causes intense pain, ulcerations and could result in blindness if untreated.

Some people are allergic to chlorine used to treat poo water. If one insists on swimming when he or she has bruises or scratches, the skin could
turn red and swell or worse still, become infected.

Swimmers who contract stomach and intestine diseases are usually given antibiotics, says Dr Joseph Kavule of Rubaga Hospital. He says seeking medical attention from a doctor is
the best remedy to avoid illnesses and fatal complications.

Kiggundu says swimmers who contract ear or eye infections are given antibacterial and antifungal medications such as ear or eye drops and pills.

David Ssali, a herbal dermatologist, advises cleansing of the colon and eating onions cures intestinal diseases.

Pool maintenance
Godfrey Masaaba, the Kampala National Water quality control officer, says many pool attendants are negligent and lack expertise. “They don’t consult experts to verify the quality of water before it is used in a pool. Pool water should not be in an acidic or alkaline state.”

He prescribes a ph (hydrogen concentration) of between 6.5 to 7.8. Although chlorine has the ability to kill bacteria, in the presence of high contamination, it breaks down very fast.

The disinfection process, therefore, has to be monitored closely to guarantee safety. Johnson Mujabi, a pool attendant at Makerere University, says some strains of germs resist chlorine, but they can be removed through filtering.

He says pool walls and floors should be scrubbed regularly to avoid growth of algae that harbours germs. “Pool owners need tools to consistently monitor the chlorine, acidity and turbidity (mud) levels.” If properly maintained pool water that is consistently used should be replaced after two months.

Who should not swim?
Mujabi says there are rules governing swimmers. If one is drunk, he is not allowed inside a pool. “People with long hair are advised to wear swim headgear,” he says.

Ill people should not swim.
Kavule says epileptics and people with open wounds should not swim. Children should be monitored when swimming.

Hygiene tips
Find out when the pool was last chemically treated.

Take a shower before and after swimming ans use an anti-bacterial soap.

Do not use vaseline before swimming because the chemical may react with chlorine.

Request for guidance, if you cannot swim.
Wear swim headgear if you have long hair.
Avoid wearing contact lenses inside a pool.

Keep your mouth closed to avoid swallowing contaminated water.
Do not defecate or urinate in a pool.
Do not swim when ill with diarrhoea. You could pass the infection to others.

Do not swim when you are drunk, you can drown.
Babies should wear floaters and plastic swim pampers and their mentors should change them often. Alternatively, babies should swim in shallow pools to avoid drowning.

Before you take a plunge

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