I have heard some spa owners say that their hot tub is the best thing that has happened to them. And I definitely understand the joy. However, it is very rare to see something good without a few bad side effects – your hot tub is not an exception.
There are a few health complications and hazards a hot tub can pose on people that use it. Some of the health issues your hot tub can pose on you are; hot tub lung infection, hot tub rash or folliculitis, legionella infection, UTI, etc.
However, these infections can be prevented through proper care and maintenance. If you can make sure that your hot tub stays sanitized at all times, then you have nothing to worry about.
Where the major problem lies is when you are the type that uses public hot tubs. In public spas where different people make use of the same spa could pose a serious challenge. Though they usually have people who take care of the spas, you can’t be so sure.
Let’s look at some of the diseases one can contract through the use of spas;
- Hot tub rash
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hot tub rash is one of the common diseases associated with hot tubs.
This disease is caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacteria easily survive in spas because of the high temperature which makes the chlorine disinfectant deplete faster.
If left for a long time, the hot tub sanitizer level drops while the bacteria grows. That is why it is the most common infection associated with spa. It’s often referred to as hot tub folliculitis.
To prevent the bacteria from invading the hot tub, the sanitizer level should always be maintained. In the night when the hot tub would not be used for a long time, it can be shocked with a high dose of chlorine.
Also, to protect yourself from getting infected, you need to shower with soap immediately you come out of the spa. Then wash your swimsuit. Check here to learn how you can wash your swimsuit to prevent foam from forming in your hot tub.
- Hot tub lung
Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is known to thrive in warm water. That is why the bacteria can invade the hot tub if not well managed.
According to the research published on NCBI, the bacteria can stick on air bubbles and become aerosolized once they get to a surface. Then if someone breathes in the bacteria, they grow into small areas of inflammation on the lungs – usually called “granulomas”.
- Legionella infection
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionnaires’ disease can infect a hot tub that is not properly disinfected.
CDC says that the disease caused by legionella bacteria is a type of pneumonia that can be contracted by breathing in steam from the infected spa.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Though this is not common, one has to be careful with how the spa is managed. The disease is caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and researchers in Denver have reported cases where urinary tract infections are linked with hot tubs.
Are hot tubs full of germs?
A hot tub not properly sanitized can easily be infected by germs. Most microbes thrive in environments that are warm and wet.
The warm condition of the hot tub makes it a good habitat for different disease-causing organisms to thrive. Some of them include norovirus, vibrio, pseudomonas, cryptosporidium, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, shigella, herpes virus, etc.
So, one has to be on guard and ensure that the spa is properly sanitized. For those that use the public spas, make sure you confirm from the people in charge how often they test and sanitize the spa.
Also, review the inspection score to be sure that every parameter is in order. You should expect to see something within these ranges;
- For hot tubs with chlorine sanitizer, chlorine should be nothing less than 3ppm
- For hot tubs with bromine sanitizer, the bromine should be nothing less than 4ppm
- The pH range should be between 7.2 and 7.8.
You can also do the testing yourself. The test strips can be purchased from pool stores or online shops. These simple actions can keep you free from deadly infections.
Are chemicals in hot tubs safe?
Many hot tub owners use chlorine because it is highly effective when it comes to disinfection. Chlorine is an active chemical element that is highly reactive, especially in high temperatures.
Some studies, according to the article written here, have indicated that chlorine could be associated with cancer-related problems and cardiovascular disease.
However, chlorine can be substituted with bromine. In fact, we would recommend bromine over chlorine for hot tub disinfection. You can read this article to learn the 4 reasons why bromine could be better than chlorine.
Moreover, there are so many chlorine-free chemicals one can use to sanitize hot tubs. Though chlorine could pose health hazards, you are safe when you use it in moderation.
Who should avoid hot tubs?
First, if you have any health-related issues, you need to discuss with your doctor before you can soak in the hot tub.
A hot tub is great to have and it helps to promote healthy body function. But, it could complicate issues when you already have health-related challenges.
If you see yourself with any of the following health conditions, then you need to consult your doctor before you can enter the hot tub;
- Low blood pressure: Hot tubs have the potential to lower your blood pressure especially when the temperature is high. When our body gets hot, the body has a natural way of regulating the temperature and relieving the pressure. That is why we sweat.
But when you are soaked in your hot tub, you will no longer be able to release sweat normally. As your body stays hot for a long period in the spa the blood vessel will dialect in response to help regulate the body temperature.
This makes the blood pressure drop. And it will not be good for someone with low blood pressure to have such an experience because it might cause complications.
- Heart problem: As we pointed out above with regards to blood pressure drops, the heart will always be affected.
The sudden drop in blood pressure would force the heart to increase its pump rate. For someone with no heart problems, the heart could be able to carry the increased work rate. But, it may lead to complications for someone who has a heart problem.
- Pregnancy: Though it looks like it’s okay to soak yourself in a hot tub when you are pregnant, you seriously need the advice of your doctor. Pregnancy is not something one needs to play with.
Exposing your pregnancy to the high temperature of the hot tub may not be safe for you and your baby. So, get your doctor to know about it first.
Is it OK to hot tub every day?
Yes, it is perfectly okay to soak in your hot tub every day. As long as your hot tub is properly managed with adequate water chemistry, you are safe to soak almost every day.
But make sure that you don’t oversoak yourself in your spa. As we discussed above, the hot tub is good but can also be detrimental to your health when not properly managed.
Limit the time duration you soak yourself in the hot tub. Also, soaking yourself once a day is enough to give you all the health benefits you deserve.
How long should you sit in a hot tub?
Normally, you should soak within 10 – 15 minutes. Going beyond 15 minutes is not safe for your health. Moreover, doing it once a day is perfectly okay for you.
But if you have any health-related issues, you should soak within the range of 5-10 minutes. Going beyond that is not advisable as it could be detrimental to your health.