Splish, Splash, Cough?

As it heats up for summer many people can’t wait to jump in the neighborhood pool. I love to swim! I spent several years on a year-round swim team, and have a lapsed lifeguard certification. You could say I’m a bit of a fish. My time on the swim team was before my asthma diagnosis. To my recollection, I had a good amount of mucus coming out of my nose or coughing up out of my lungs during swim practices. I recall this being annoying but not particularly inhibiting my participation.

In recent years I haven’t swum much. Just hasn’t been something that has held my interest. I don’t have any worse asthma symptoms from swimming compared to other exercises. I had an enjoyable experience in water aerobics a few years ago but just haven’t kept up with it. I am not good at sticking with exercise that requires me to attend a class or go to a gym. Bicycling and walking are my preferred fitness because they only require me to make it outside. I can squeeze them into other errands and daily activities.

Is exposure to chlorine my asthma trigger

I can’t help but wonder if exposure to chlorine of indoor pools is safe for someone with asthma. Recently, I came across a study about swimming pool attendance and Asthma/Allergies in children. The researchers asked parents in Spain to report lifetime swimming pool attendance for children who were currently 9-12.1 Children who went to the pool before 2 years old were had a lower rate of asthma and allergies compared to those who started going to the pool after 4 years old.1 Eczema was more prevalent for those who spent more time at the swimming pool.1 To a year-round swimmer, this is not entirely surprising, most of my teammates had a specific skin care regime to deal with the skin irritation from daily swimming. The pool chemicals were particularly drying in my experience.

Swimming being good for asthma

Several of my former swim teammates participated because it was “good” for their asthma. It’s been long enough that I don’t remember how swimming was supposed to be better than any other form of exercise for their asthma. Researchers in this study on swimming pool attendance excluded children from their analysis who reported choosing swimming due to respiratory problems. 1 It looks like my teammates were not the only ones who were told that swimming would be good for their asthma.

This study concluded that additional research in the form of a longitudinal study would be necessary to confirm its correlations.1The results failed to support the hypothesis that swimming pool attendance increases asthma risk for kids. 1 I’m glad to know that my winters in the YWCA pool and summers in the outdoor pool likely did not increase my risk of asthma. Now if you’ll excuse me there is a water slide with my name on it! Will I see you or your kids diving in the deep end this summer? Or are you wishing asthma could be your excuse to stay in the cabana with a good book?

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