A Forum For Women's Health







Hot Tub Safety
I have just joined a health club, and have heard there is a chance of getting an infection if you use the hot tub, because of the temperature. Is this a fact, or myth?

Although there are some risks associated with using a hot tub, these risks are rarely the ones we have been told about by our mothers. The greatest hazard you face when getting into a hot tub is drowning.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission alerts us to the fact that hot tubs can entangle a person's hair or body parts. Children and adults alike have been held to the bottom of a hot tub by the suction generated from the drain and drowned. Women should make sure that their spa or health club has dual drains in the tub, (which helps to distribute any suction), and drain covers which are not cracked or broken. Note where the emergency cut-off switch is so you can turn it off in an emergency. This is also a good thing to keep in mind before getting inside of a steam room or sauna. Drinking alcohol while in a hot tub is strongly discouraged. The combination of heat and alcohol can cause a woman to lose consciousness and drown.

Beyond drowning, hot tubs do present some other, less serious health risks. We often want to get into the hot tub after a long workout, but a hot tub can raise a woman's body temperature to dangerous levels. If a person has already been working their body, the additional stress of a hot tub may result in dehydration, lightheadedness, nausea and extreme weakness. Take a few minutes after your workout to bring your heart rate down, before jumping into the hot tub, and make sure that you always stay well hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you, this goes for steam rooms and saunas as well.

Hot tubs can indeed, as the myth goes, lead to infections. Skin rashes, infections of the hair follicles, and ear infections are the most common. These can result from either bacteria in the water, or from the cleansing agents and corrosive agents applied to the tub. Repeated exposure to these agents can also do quite a number on your skin.

If a woman has a history of bladder infections she should avoid hot tubs. Raising the temperature of the tub will not make a difference, it may only increase the risk of scalding her skin.

Hot tubs should also be avoided by older women and women who already have lowered immune systems. They are more vulnerable to the bacteria that may be in the water. Older people and people with weak immune systems have been known to develop pneumonia and legionnaire's disease. Bathing longer in the tub and later in the day has been associated with increased risk of disease.

One other serious concern pertains to pregnant women. Elevating a pregnant woman's core temperature during neural tube formation (during the first 28 days of gestation) carries a risk of poor spinal development for the fetus.

Bathing in a hot tub carries its share of risk, but keep in mind, that it also has its benefits. For many women, soaking in a hot tub is a much needed break from sometimes dangerous levels of stress. For others it is a way to soak over worked muscles. Hot tubs can remain a fairly risk free experience as long as a woman pays attention to safety, hygiene and her general health.

Copyright © 1999 GenneX Healthcare Technologies,Inc.