Swimming in places, such as pools, hot tubs, lakes and rivers may increase infection in chemotherapy patients 3. In fact, the Cure Our Children Foundation recommends completely avoiding public pools. Chemotherapy treatment decreases your immune system’s ability to fight disease, which leaves you more susceptible to infection from germs in the water 3. Fortunately, a disinfected private swimming area may provide a safe swimming option. However, consult your doctor before swimming.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Chemotherapy, a cancer treatment, consists of various drugs given primarily through your veins, or by intravenous infusion. Unfortunately, chemotherapy drugs not only kill cancer cells, but destroy many healthy cells, as well.
An infection happens when germs enter your body and multiply 3. Infections commonly occur in cancer patients, because of diseases, such as:
- along with the immune-suppressing side effects from chemotherapy
- according to the Chemocare website 3
Several of your body organs help combat infections; for instance, your skin and mucus membranes inhibit germs from entering your body. Your lymph nodes filter out harmful substances, such as bacteria, for elimination by your infection-fighting white blood cells 3. When your white blood cell count drops too low, you are more likely to get an infection 3.
Recreational Water Illnesses
')5. RWIs can occur from swallowing, inhaling or touching germ-infested, contaminated water. ')5. Diarrhea, reportedly the most common RWI, can result from germs, such as cryptosporidium and E. coli. You share water with many people who, on average, have about .14 g of contaminating fecal matter on their bottoms, reports the CDC. In addition, the high water temperatures in hot tubs make disinfecting difficult, while creating a thriving environment for bacterial growth.
Highly disinfected private pools and hot tubs can provide you with a safer water experience while taking chemotherapy. Check disinfectant levels of pools -- and especially hot tubs -- on a regular, frequent basis to ensure the control of infection-causing germs 3. Wear shoes around your pool or hot tub and apply body lotion to protect your feet from injury and your skin from cracking -- allowing germs to easily enter your system. The Cure Our Children Foundation also recommends that you cover a central line, or inserted catheter, with a suitable water barrier, such as:
- before swimming
Change and clean your dressing immediately following swimming.
Wear shoes around your pool or hot tub and apply body lotion to protect your feet from injury and your skin from cracking -- allowing germs to easily enter your system. Infections commonly occur in cancer patients, because of diseases, such as leukemia and lymphoma, along with the immune-suppressing side effects from chemotherapy, according to the Chemocare website. Chemotherapy drugs work in somewhat different ways, but generally kill cancer cells, shrink tumors and may also prohibit the spreading, or metastasis, of cancer cells throughout your body, according to "Harvard Health Publications."
- Cure Our Children Foundation: Preparing Your Home for the Chemotherapy Patient: Procedures to Follow and Questions to Ask
- Massachusetts General Hospital: A Guide to Chemotherapy for Brain Tumor Patients
- Chemocare: Infection
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What are Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Where are Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) Found?
- Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Getty Images