Cold showers, hot baths: 10 questions about how water affects health

IMAGING LIFE WITHOUT WATER IS IMPOSSIBLE, and our body, as you know, consists of it by 50–70% . With drinking, we already figured out : in the volume necessary for a day is counted, and soup and coffee, soft water is less rigid, and mineral water with gas is not harmful to the stomach. Today we answer topical summer questions about the water around us – in the river, pool or shower.    

What infections can you pick up in water 

As a child, mothers told us that swimming in unfamiliar places is dangerous – however, it was about the dangers of a muddy bottom, a strong current or great depth. The parents did not mention the pathogens lurking in the water, although it might have been with them that they should have started. Faecal- transmitted Cryptosporidia lie in wait for us in swimming pools and water parks, the dense shell of these organisms makes them resistant to chlorine. In 1993, in Milwaukee, Cryptosporidia entered the water supply and infected more than 400,000 people – still one of the largest waterborne infectious outbreaks in the United States.    

And then there is Pseudomonas (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) – a type of bacteria that can cause skin rashes and itching and are very fond of Jacuzzi. If anything, the latter is hinted at by the fact that many outbreaks were recorded after a hot bubble bath. Legionella affecting the respiratory system also thrive in water. These bacteria can lead to Pontiac fever (more commonly) or Legionnaires’ disease (less commonly). And while the first is characterized by muscle pain, fever and usually goes away on its own, the second requires hospitalization and antibiotic treatment. Just last month, an outbreak of legionellosis occurred among visitors to a spa in England, and an investigation has begun.            

Cyanobacteria – blue-green algae that are found in flowering water can also be dangerous . The fact is that they secrete toxins, which in large quantities can cause severe irritation, and in extreme cases can be toxic to the liver and nervous system. Finally, somewhere in the world there is Fowler’s Negleria, a “brain-devouring amoeba”, when infected, the patient dies in 98% of cases . The good news is that this condition is very rare.      

According to the WHO , of the two billion people who in one way or another consume water contaminated with fecal bacteria, about 500 thousand die from the conditions provoked by them. So if you want to protect yourself, try not to swallow water while swimming. 

Can a wet swimsuit lead to infection ? 

Most women face vaginal yeast infections at some point in their lives, according to the statistics. And this is, albeit not a very comfortable, but generally safe story. As for a wet swimsuit, experts are sure that this can only slightly increase the risk due to the fact that a warm and humid stagnant environment is ideal for the growth and development of fungi.  

Since full-blown research is not possible – it would be strange if scientists intentionally infect women – all of the evidence comes from studies that looked at the correlation between wearing tight synthetic clothing that can retain moisture in the crotch and the risk of a yeast infection. Even here, the results were mixed .   

Can a cold shower strengthen immunity?

Recall that immunity does not work according to the equalizer principle, that is, it will not be possible to strengthen or weaken it with one movement. In one study, scientists found that regular cold showers increased the number of white blood cells in the blood, and in another – that people who took a cold shower in the morning were sick 29% less than the control group.     

But scientists are not sure that the matter here is solely in the soul. It is possible that people who are tempered with it, in general, lead a healthier lifestyle, and therefore better resist infections. In addition, experiments often compare two contrasting groups (say, swimmers in an open pool and not swimmers at all), forgetting about the third (swimmers in an indoor pool).  

Whether cold
or hot water relieves pain

A 2012 study found that taking an ice bath after intense workouts can help relieve muscle tension, which can make an athlete’s overall health a little more enjoyable. But this – an important point – happens only in comparison with inactivity or rest. So other ways to prevent muscle pain, such as stretching, light jogging, or a warm bath, might work just as well. Or even better.  

Generational experience suggests that heating pads or hot water bottles can temporarily relieve abdominal pain during menstruation. And although scientists have never argued with this fact, the question of why this happened until a certain moment remained open. Science now knows that it’s not just psychological comfort and placebos, but heat receptors that block pain signals. In particular, the TRPV1 heat receptor has been found to be able to block P2X3 pain receptors. And this mechanism may not be the only one.  

How often do you need to shower?

It is difficult to find official recommendations on this topic – but, for example, the American Academy of Dermatologists advises children of six to eleven years old to wash a couple of times a week, and even after dirty games or swimming in water. With the onset of puberty, recommendations change to a daily shower or bath. All over the world, on average, people wash about once a day, if you do not take into account heavy physical activity and the peculiarities of the climate, when you may need to refresh yourself more often.  

But the truth is, you shouldn’t shower too often , because even passive standing under running water, not to mention actively rubbing with a washcloth, deprives your skin of the natural oils it needs to retain moisture. And the hotter the water, the faster it happens. So hot shower lovers shouldn’t be surprised that their skin is constantly dry and itchy. The water temperature should be comfortable, from cool to warm – whichever you prefer. And remember, the claim that rinsing with cold water before stepping out of the shower makes skin firmer has no scientific basis.  

Can swimming replace other types of training?

Although sex, as it turned out , cannot compete with sports in terms of the volume of loads and the number of calories burned, swimming is quite capable of this. This type of activity uses more muscle groups than any other cardio exercise. And the benefits don’t end there.  

Swimming benefits also include increased lung capacity (which means better oxygen supply to the body), improved cardiovascular function (including optimized blood flow to the brain ), fighting depression and anxiety , and reducing the risk of diabetes and death from all. reasons . Finally, in water we do not feel our own weight – swimming causes less damage to muscles and joints .          

Why you can’t jump into cold water 

Jumping into the water can be very fun (no matter how old the jumper is), but only if the water is at normal temperature. Jumping into cold water is risky. Firstly, two reflexes are simultaneously activated here: because of a sharp fall into the cold in an attempt to warm up, the heart tries to beat faster, and in order to conserve energy and oxygen when immersed in water, on the contrary, slower. The end of all this can be a lethal arrhythmia . 

Secondly, the danger is cold shock – a reaction caused by a sudden cooling of the skin (possible even at a water temperature of 10-15 degrees). Reflex exhalation and uncontrolled hyperventilation can cause a person to inhale water. In general, although the Titanic made everyone believe that the greatest danger of being in cold water is hypothermia, in fact, there is a great risk of not living up to it, and it is better not to test your abilities.   

Which is better – a shower or a bath

The question is almost as complicated as about okroshka with kvass or kefir, but you can still answer it. In terms of skin condition, the shower may be better simply because we spend less time in it. The shower also benefits from an environmental protection point of view , as it allows the use of special water-saving shower heads. 

But when it comes to dealing with stress, loneliness and negative emotions, then both options will be good. The main thing is that the water is warm (but, as we remember, not hot).   

How dangerous is chlorinated water in swimming pools 

Chlorine used in swimming pools to kill harmful bacteria can be hazardous due to its by-products. One of the most famous among them – potentially associated with cancer haloacetic acid (HAA), the remains of which are found in the urine of swimmers after 20-30 minutes in the pool, but the output for three hours.     

But here it is important to understand three things: first, for HAA to become carcinogenic, it must be much more; the second – if you do not swallow the water in the pool, the acid will not even enter the body; third, the advantages of disinfection, which turns a huge Petri dish into a safe swimming area, outweigh its disadvantages in any case . 

Does thermal water moisturize the skin

There is no definite answer to this question yet: the producers of thermal water claim that it really moisturizes, and Japanese scientists have found that irrigation of the face with small particles of water leads to an increase in the smoothness and elasticity of the skin – and the effect lasts up to six hours. True, only seventeen people took part in the study.  

On the other hand, to moisturize, you need not only to put water on the skin, but also to hold it – and this requires additional substances that are not in thermal water. As Adel Miftakhova notes in her blog, because of the salt content, thermal water can not only not moisturize, but also dehydrate the skin. 

local_offerevent_note May 1, 2021

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