Confession: I can't swim. This means that in the small chance that I do end up in a pool somehow, I'll definitely be swallowing pool water. That weird feeling is bad enough, but can swallowing pool water make you sick? 

The concern comes from the fact that as much as a pool may be enticing on a hot summer day, the water you're about to jump into may be full of bacteria and parasites that could harm your body.

One example is crypto, a parasite that causes diarrhea, cramps, fever, and vomiting, which can make you sick for up to a week. Chlorine can take several days to kill off crypto, and during that time swimmers can pick it up by swallowing pool water. Other bacteria to be aware of include E.coli, Giardia, and Shigella. 

Recreational water illnesses are real. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they are "caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools."

Why does this happen?

Simply put, this happens because swimmers' germs are transferred to the pool. Chlorine may help, but it does not kill off everything bad. According to the CDC, the number of outbreaks of the parasite commonly known as crypto in pool water has doubled since 2014.

Even though the danger is there, you don't need to live in fear of germs that could affect you after swallowing pool water. Since the crypto outbreaks jumped from 16 outbreaks to 32 in 2016, the numbers aren't representing a huge epidemic. It's likely that one or two accidental swallows will not kill you. Still, you should be mindful to avoid the chance that you may get sick.  

What to look for

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

jaywennington on unsplash

The CDC recommends using your senses to evaluate a pool before jumping in: the water should look clean and blue all the way to the bottom. The pool's chlorine should not have a strong smell, either. A strong chlorine-like odor can mean chloramines, which are chemicals comprised of chlorine mixed with body oil, sweat, urine, saliva, lotions, and feces. Yup. Gross. 

Just try to be careful the next time you're at the pool. You want to avoid swallowing pool water, but also you should shower before getting into that pool, for everyone else's sake.