What is Hot Tub Lung?

You might have heard about health problems associated with hot tubbing, one of the most common being hot tub lung.  Hot tub lung produces asthma-like symptoms that can be life threatening.  However, hot tub lung does not come from every hot tub, it actually comes from a certain bacteria that is found in poorly-maintained hot tubs.  

What Causes Hot Tub Lung?

Hot Tub Lung is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium, that is sometimes found in hot tubs.  It is inhaled with the hot tub steam and can get into the lungs of swimmers.  People who have hot tub lung can otherwise be healthy.  While it is not contagious, other people who share the contaminated hot tub can also contract hot tub lung by breathing the same steam.  

What Are the Symptoms of Hot Tub Lung?

People with hot tub lung may suffer from shortness of breath, coughing, weight loss, fatigue, low oxygen levels, and fever.  Due to its symptoms, it is commonly misdiagnosed as asthma or bronchitis.

How Do You Treat Hot Tub Lung?

Often, antibiotics are prescribed to help treat hot tub lung, although the most common method of treatment is abstinence.  Patients are asked to drain and thoroughly clean their hot tubs and then refrain for using them for up to a year.  If you continue to use the hot tub, you continuously expose your body to the harmful bacteria causing hot tub lung.  In taking a break, you allow your body to heal.  

How do You Prevent Hot Tub Lung?

Hot Tub Lung is most common in poorly-maintained hot tubs, or hot tubs that are kept indoors.  If you keep your hot tub inside, make sure that it is in a well-ventilated area.  Change the water frequently, and make sure that you often clean the filters, pumps and the hot tub itself.  Keep the pH levels balanced, and use enough chlorine to keep or bromine the hot tub sanitary.  Due to the high temperature of the hot tub, chlorine is not as effective and the levels need to be carefully watched.  If you have a bromine system, you don’t need to be as concerned about it breaking down, as it is more stable at higher temperatures, however, you should frequently check the chemical levels in your pool no matter what system you have.  Even when you are not using the hot tub, make sure that the filters run at least 4 hours per day.  Shower before using your hot tub, this will prevent your hot tub from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.  Keep the underside of your hot tub cover clean as well to prevent bacteria growth.  

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