Nav: Home

Sea swimming associated with increased ailments

February 26, 2018

People who swim, bathe or take part in water sports in the sea are substantially more likely to experience stomach bugs, ear aches and other types of illness than those who do not.

The large-scale research analysis was led by the University of Exeter Medical School in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. It is the first systematic review to examine the evidence on whether spending time in the sea is associated with increased risk of reporting a variety of ailments.

The results demonstrated that sea bathing doubled the odds of reporting general ear ailments, and the odds of reporting earache specifically rose by 77%. For gastrointestinal illnesses, the odds increased by 29%.

Dr Anne Leonard, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: "In high-income countries like the UK, there is a perception that there is little risk to health of spending time in the sea. However, our paper shows that spending time in the sea does increase the probability of developing illnesses, such as ear ailments and problems involving the digestive system, such as stomach ache and diarrhoea. We think that this indicates that pollution is still an issue affecting swimmers in some of the world's richest countries."

Despite significant investment resulting in an improvement water quality in recent years, seawater is still polluted from sources including industrial waste, sewage and run-off from farmland.

The researchers whittled down more than 6,000 studies to 19 studies which met the strict criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis, designed to establish robust research evidence. Many of the studies included recruited thousands of participants. The number of people analysed in total exceeded 120,000. All the studies were conducted in high-income countries since 1961. The studies looked at the links between sea bathing and the incidence of illness in countries including the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway.

Dr Will Gaze, of the University of Exeter Medical School, supervised the research. He said: "We don't want to deter people from going into the sea, which has many health benefits such as improving physical fitness, wellbeing and connecting with nature. However, it is important that people are aware of the risks so they can make informed decisions. Although most people will recover from infections with no medical treatment, they can prove more serious for vulnerable people, such as the very old or very young, or those with pre-existing health conditions. We have come a long way in terms of cleaning up our waters, but our evidence shows there is still work to be done. We hope this research will contribute to further efforts to clean up our coastal waters."

Dr Ruth Garside, of the University of Exeter Medical School, is an expert on systematic reviews. She said "Systematic reviews use rigorous methods to identify and assess all the relevant research on a topic in an unbiased way. The study findings are then combined statistically - this allows us to have more confidence in the results."
-end-
The paper, entitled 'Is it safe to go back in the water? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk of acquiring infections from recreational exposure to seawater' is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Authors are Anne Leonard, Andrew Singer, Obioha Ukoumunne, William Gaze, and Ruth Garside.

The work was funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

University of Exeter

Related Health Articles:

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.
Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.
Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.
Geographic and health system correlates of interprofessional oral health practice
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health (Volume 6, Number 2, 2018, pp.
Bloomberg era's emphasis on 'health in all policies' improved New Yorkers' heart health
From 2002 to 2013, New York City implemented a series of policies prioritizing the public's health in areas beyond traditional healthcare policies and illustrated the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Youth consider mobile health units a safe place for sexual health services
Mobile health units bring important medical services to communities across the country.
Toddler formulas and milks -- not recommended by health experts -- mislead with health claims
Misleading labeling on formulas and milks marketed as 'toddler drinks' may confuse parents about their healthfulness or necessity, finds a new study by researchers at the NYU College of Global Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.
Women's health has worsened while men's health has improved, trends since 1990 show
Swedish researchers have studied health trends among women and men aged 25-34 from 1990-2014.
Health insurance changes, access to care by patients' mental health status
A research letter published by JAMA Psychiatry examined access to care before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and after the ACA for patients grouped by mental health status using a scale to assess mental illness in epidemiologic studies.
Community health workers lead to better health, lower costs for Medicaid patients
As politicians struggle to solve the nation's healthcare problems, a new study finds a way to improve health and lower costs among Medicaid and uninsured patients.
More Health News and Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.