Experts generally agree that hot tubs can bring quite a handful of therapeutic benefits to one’s health and well-being. People complaining of and suffering from conditions like tired and aching muscles, blood circulation and blood pressure problems, chronic fatigue, and others can attest to the wonderful effects that can be had by soaking and relaxing in a warm and bubbling hot tub. Despite the many health benefits that can be obtained from a hot tub, there also some negative things about hot tubs that must be considered, like how it can become the breeding ground for a dreadful bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease and other infections from hot tubs. Before we continue on with the steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from this particular disease, let’s first get to know more about Legionnaires’ disease and what causes it.
Legionnaires’ Disease and Hot Tubs
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella. Since the bacteria naturally thrives in hot or warm water, it is no wonder that hot tubs and it its plumbing lines are ideal breeding ground for them. Accordingly, Legionella live and thrive in water with temperatures between 25ºC and 45ºC, which is similar to the general temperature at which hot tubs operate.
Legionnaires’ diseases can be contracted by breathing in moist air that is infected with the bacteria, such as the steam that rises from the hot tub. That said, you don’t necessarily have to be in the hot tub in order to acquire the disease; even merely standing anywhere near the spa and its steam is often enough.
It should be noted that in the event that Legionella bacteria enters your body, it may lead to either a full-blown case of Legionnaires’ disease or a milder infection known as Pontiac fever. Below is a very brief discussion of both.
People who suffer from Legionnaires’ disease are prone to experience problems in their respiratory systems, fever, and acute influenza. In addition, victims may also experience muscular aches, headache, diarrhea, and fuzzy-mindedness and confusion. If the disease is left untreated and progresses, pneumonia may develop as well as renal and liver function failure. Symptoms usually reveal themselves anywhere between two and ten days after the bacteria enters the body. If the necessary action is not taken immediately, the disease may eventually lead to death.
Compared to Legionnaires’ disease, Pontiac fever tends to develop far quicker, with the symptoms and effects showing up within a few hours or up to two days after being exposed to the bacteria. People suffering from Pontiac fever normally experience fever and muscle aches. The other symptoms mentioned earlier like pneumonia and other complications are absent.
In any case, if you don’t feel well after using your hot tub or see any signs that you may have been infected with Legionella, do consult your doctor right away.
How to Treat Your Hot Tub for Legionnaires’ Disease
If you suspect that your hot tub is contaminated with Legionella, the following steps should be taken.
- Close or cover the hot tub immediately. Do not drain the water.
- Get in touch with your local public health agency and inform them of the possibility that your hot tub may be contaminated with Legionella. They should immediately come by your residence to take water samples from your hot tub for testing.
- After the samples are taken and tested, drain all the water out of your hot tub and dispose of it as directed by the health agency. Remember, you’re draining out contaminated water so following the agency’s advice is a must to prevent spreading the bacteria.
- Clean your hot tub using a high quality and reliable hot tub cleaner. Scrub the hot tub’s surface, circulation mechanisms and other components thoroughly. Remove and clean the filter as well, or better yet, consider changing it with a new one. After that, rinse the hot tub and refill it with water.
- Shock your hot tub afterwards to kill off any bacteria that may be remaining. Proper shocking procedures must be observed, otherwise, the shocking process won’t be effective. Then flush the system and remove the water.
- Fill the hot tub with fresh, clean water and repeat sampling to confirm that it is free from Legionella and other forms of bacteria.
How to Avoid Legionnaires’ Disease in Your Hot Tub
As the old adage goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” That said, you’ll want to make sure that your hot tub is free from Legionella bacteria before you use it. The following tips and advice should help ensure that your hot tub is safe and fit for use all the time.
- Observe the quality of the water before you enter the hot tub. It should be clear and have little to no odor of chlorine or any chemical.
- Run your finger along the surface and the sides of the hot tub. They should feel squeaky clean and not slippery or slimy.
- Make sure that the pumps, filters and other hot tub components necessary in sanitizing the water are all up and running.
- Always use excellent quality hot tub chemicals. Avoid using pool chemicals since there are marked differences between the two (e.g. Trichlor – a type of chlorine – is used for pools only. Using it in hot tubs can lead to bleaching of its surfaces).
- Test the water before using it. Make sure that the chlorine or bromine levels are within the recommended range and that the hot tub’s water pH is balanced. You’ll want to check regularly when there is a heavy bather load.
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Hot tubs offer a host of health benefits, which is why so many homeowners have them installed in their properties. However, it is important to ensure that your hot tub is clean and hygienic, otherwise it becomes a breeding ground for a variety of germs and bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease and other illnesses. Although the chances of you ever contracting Legionnaire’s disease is pretty low, you’ll still want to take the preventive measures and steps on how to prevent Legionnaires disease mentioned above. Doing so will help lower the chances of you getting any infections from hot tubs water. This way, you can enjoy a safe, warm, and worry-free soak all the time.