For many people, a long soak in a bubbling hot tub or Jacuzzi is one of the best ways to relax and unwind after a long day at work. The warm and bubbling water can do wonders to your tired muscles and even help take your thoughts away from all the stresses and pressures of your job. Unfortunately, this seemingly perfect way of ending your day may actually be harmful to your health when certain precautions are ignored. That said, we list here some of the most common hot tub dangers as well as some hot tub safety tips to ensure that your dreamy moments in the hot tub doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Some bathers often report having an itching feeling after soaking in a hot tub. More often than not, this itchiness is either caused by the various hot tub chemicals mixed with the water or a certain type of bacteria that are present in the water.
Hot tub Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles which is caused by a bacteria known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These bacteria were observed to thrive in warm and wet environments which is why they can be usually found in hot tubs. Ridding your hot tub such bacteria (and other forms of bacteria for that matter) is a pretty simple matter, requiring no more than employing a regular cleaning of the hot tub and sanitizing the water in it with water sanitizers like chlorine and bromine.
However, be sure to take extra caution when using these chemicals. Adding too much of these chemicals to the hot tub’s water may actually lead to skin irritation and itching. Most of the time the itchy feeling can be easily remedied by taking a shower to wash off the chemicals from the skin.
In case the itching sensation occurs or continues even if the hot tub’s water is sanitized or after you’ve taken a shower, consider seeing a medical professional as the irritation may be caused by something else.
Some bathers like to soak in really hot water. It may cause some discomfort when they first enter the hot tub, but as their body adjusts to the temperature, the discomfort gradually goes away. However, prolonged exposure to hot water may actually cause minor burns or unusual redness of the skin.
The elderly and people suffering from diabetes are at high risk of experiencing minor burns when soaking in hot tubs. Their weakening nerve endings (as is the case with diabetic neuropathy) can affect their ability to sense temperature, especially in their lower extremities. In such cases, they may not even be aware of the injury.
There really isn’t any specific hot tub water temperature (what’s ideal is usually a matter of personal preferences) that should be followed. However, experts and health care professionals agree that bathers should keep the water temperature in their hot tub around 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit) just to be on the safe side. To make sure that you always have an eye on the water temperature, consider using one of those floating thermometers and throw them in the water with you as you soak.
Drop-in Blood Pressure
As you enter the sauna or immerse yourself in the hot tub, blood vessels near the skin dilate (enlarge). As a result, you may experience a slight drop in blood pressure. This is rarely dangerous in itself, but its side effects may lead to serious accidents and untoward incidents.
Depending on the extent to which the blood pressure decreases, the heart may try to compensate by pumping harder and faster. This can put a strain on a weak heart, and even a healthy adult may feel some of the symptoms brought about by this increased activity of the heart. Some of these symptoms include dizziness, unexplainable fatigue or weakness, light-headedness, reduced ability to concentrate, and blurred vision. Most of these symptoms are mainly from a lack of adequate blood flow to the brain, and the longer you’re in the hot tub the more powerful effects these symptoms will have on you. In some cases, it may even lead to fainting, and loss of consciousness while in the water can be very dangerous for obvious reasons.
To minimize the impact of this change in blood pressure, get in and out of the hot tub slowly. This will give your body sufficient time to adjust to the change in temperature.
Slips and Falls
As mentioned earlier, changes in blood pressure as a result of soaking in a hot tub may have negative effects on the blood flow to the brain, with one of the common symptoms is feeling lightheaded or dizzy. Sometimes, this can result in an impaired balance, and even a slight alteration in a person’s normal balance can affect his or her ability to get out of the hot tub safely.
Coupled with the warm and wet floors of the hot tub and its surroundings, dizziness and poor balance increase the likelihood of the person slipping and falling. A severe fall can lead to injuries like fractures and at worst, the person may end up hitting his or her head against the hard surfaces of the hot tub or the floor.
To keep this from happening, always make it a point to get out of the hot tub slowly to help your body adjust to the change in temperature and give it time to get back to normal. Also, consider adding hot tub handrails to the steps or ladder leading to the hot tub so you have something to grab on to in case you suddenly feel dizzy. If you like soaking in your hot tub in the evenings, then you should consider installing lighting fixtures that provide sufficient illumination to the hot tub and its surrounding areas.
Nausea and Vomiting
Some people feel nauseous after spending some time in their hot tubs. Again, experts point to changes in the blood flow to the brain as the main cause for this. There are also cases where this happens when a person indulges in a heavy meal before soaking in the hot tub. One explanation for this is that the blood flows away from the digestive tract and towards the skin to help it adjust to the sudden change in temperature. Pregnant women are more prone to feeling nauseous when immersing in hot tubs. In some cases, nausea can be too severe that it may even lead to vomiting.
In most instances, that feeling of nausea tends to subside or go away completely once you step out of the hot tub (provided you don’t stand up too quickly). Vomiting may only happen in severe cases, but it’s not always severe enough to cause dehydration or any serious health concern. Still, caution is advised as this can be quite uncomfortable for the person.
Hot Tub Safety Tips
Aside from the ones mentioned above, here are some more hot tub safety tips to keep in mind.
People with a heart condition are advised to soak with caution. Accordingly, sudden or extended immersion in hot water can raise your body heat to undesirable levels and put a strain on your heart. Many cardiologists even go as far as to say that hot tubs and saunas are potentially dangerous for people who are known to suffer from heart diseases and ailments. However, soaking in a hot tub is generally okay for some patients provided that awareness of the body’s reaction to the water, and a little bit of common sense are practiced.
Some people like to relax in their hot tubs with a glass of martini or a bottle of beer in their hands. However, drinking alcohol (as well as the use of illicit drugs) while in a hot tub may alter blood pressure and heart activity, the effects of which can be exacerbated by the hot water. This can result in dizziness and poor balance or even a loss of consciousness, all of which can lead to untoward incidents while bathing.
Some people spend quite a long time in their hot tubs, especially when they’re having fun and enjoying themselves. However, some experts strongly advise against this. Accordingly, adults should spend no more than twenty minutes immersed in a hot tub whereas, for children, a limit of ten minutes is usually recommended. Although not a general rule since circumstances may vary from one person to another, it would be best to stick to this guideline until you are more aware of your body’s reactions to the tub’s hot water.
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Hot tub safety is crucial when you love relaxing in your hot tub. There are quite a few hot tub dangers present, but these can all be avoided by being aware of these dangers and practicing safe hot tub use. Armed with such knowledge, you should now be able to go out and relax in your nice and warm hot tub without any worry.
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