Growing up, I would look forward to vacation because that meant hotels, and hotels meant pools. For me, they were this overly fun invention that not only kept you cool, but were the perfect place to play games with family and friends. However, did I ever think about the diseases you can catch from a public pool? Not until recently. Unfortunately, as I grew older, my hypochondriac self became aware of something so, so tragic: RWIs.

RWI stands for Recreational Water Illness. Simply put, these are caused by bacteria and chemicals found in the public pool water you swim in (chlorine-resistant folks). In fact, these germs can spread through swallowing or touching the water, and even breathing in the vapors.

One of the best ways to avoid contracting diseases in public pools is educating yourself about it, amirite? Check out these common, pool-related illnesses, and get the facts so you can keep yourself safe.

1. Swimmer's Ear

Pool, summer, water, goggle and mask HD photo by Maarten van den Heuvel (@mvdheuvel) on Unsplash

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Ugh, if you've ever had swimmer's ear, you know how much it hurts. It's the inflammation of the outer ear canal, and it causes pain on the outside of your ear. It's usually caused by having excess water in your ear (a party for bacteria), and if that water is already contaminated, well, it's more likely to happen. Luckily, it can be treated with ear drops prescribed by your doctor. In order to avoid swimmer's ear, dry your ears out with a towel after swimming, or gently pull on your ear lobes while tilting your head side-to-side. You may look dumb, but let's see how the haters feel when their ears feel like they're exploding.

2. Shigellosis

Water, pink, pool, float and blue HD photo by Timothy Meinberg (@tmbrg) on Unsplash

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Diarrhea, vomiting, fever and cramping? Who doesn't want that? This lovely disease is caused by the bacterium, Shigella which can easily contaminate water. If the case of shigellosis is minor, you pretty much just have to ride it out for 5-7 days (drink those fluids). However, if that Shigella bacteria is seriously wreaking havoc on your digestive tract, then definitely call up your doctor for their expert opinion. #Antibiotics 

3. Lice

Fun in the Pool photo by Jesper Stechmann (@jesperstechmann) on Unsplash

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You would think that lice wouldn't be able to survive in chlorinated water, but think again. Lice are little, parasitic insects that are immune to the effects of chlorine. Their goal in life is to be attached to a human scalp so it can suck that human's blood (crying). The chances of getting lice in a pool are low, but it's possible to get it from sharing towels or brushes at the pool. 

4. Hepatitis A

H A Z E photo by Carlos Domínguez (@cdominguez_) on Unsplash

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Hepatitis A is an illness you definitely do not want to contract. It is a virus of the liver, so antibiotics won't be able to help. Depending on the severity of the illness, symptoms range from nausea and lack of appetite (ugh, the worst) to jaundice and fever. But don't freak out yet, I have some good news: There's a shot to prevent it. So, if you're worried, I advise you to go get vaccinated if you haven't been already.

5. E. Coli

Pool, water, summer, swimming pool and handrail HD photo by Jay Wennington (@jaywennington) on Unsplash

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Although the bacteria E. Coli is typically associated with food, it can also live in water. Most E. Coli is not dangerous (it actually lives in your intestines), however, particular strains of the bacteria can lead to diarrhea, kidney failure and even death if it is left untreated. To avoid being infected, do not swim in pools where animals have been swimming, or where fecal matter has been introduced to the area.

6. Cryptosporidiosis

Pool, feet, friend, water and swimming HD photo by Joe Pizzio (@pzopro) on Unsplash

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This disease is more commonly known as "Crypto," and it's caused by the parasite, Cryptosporidium. The illness, like others, causes severe diarrhea and cramping, leading to some major discomfort. To protect yourself, keep your hair and ears dry, and do not swim with open wounds. After swimming, make sure to take a long shower to wash off any excess chlorine.

7.  Legionnaires’ disease

Underwater photo by Alexa Mazzarello (@alexamazzarello) on Unsplash

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If you were tired of hearing about diarrhea, then I guess there's a bit of a silver lining. Legionnaires' disease is actually a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella. It is spread through inhaling mist from water that is contaminated, but you are more likely to be infected if you have a weak immune system. Symptoms include, chills, fever, body ache and head aches. To avoid Legionnaires' disease, make sure the pool you're swimming in conforms to health and safety regulations.

 I don't know about you guys, but I made my decision about halfway through this article to never swim in a public pool, ever again. For those of you that are not as paranoid as myself, and  more daring, I wish you the best of luck.