View Full Version : Chlorine allergy and the end of my swimming days.....

April 4th, 2013, 04:20 PM
Well I'm grateful every day to be healthy enough to swim and not chronically ill or something, but am at my wits end to have come to the conclusion I may very well have to give up swimming. That past year I have been dealing with horrible sneezing bouts post swim that leave me sounding like I have a cold for days. I tried a nose plug for 3 weeks after reading somewhere that might be it even though I don't feel like water gets in there. No effect. Took a week off swimming and my symptoms abated. Got back in Monday and have been a mess.

Makes me quite bummed to think I may have to ditch my swimming...it's hard to stop something you love doing 5x a week that you have been doing for over 30 years. Would love to know if anyone has successfully combated this issue and how. The Googles has been a joke for solutions....all lead to 'stop exposing the person to chlorine'. We have zero salt water pools and I'm 45 minutes from the nearest lake.

Feel free to suggest anything....thanks!

April 4th, 2013, 05:27 PM
Sorry about your reaction to the pools, it's certainly not fun! I have had issues before - not sneezing - but coughing fits in pools that are not ventilated well enough. It was so bad in high school, that my allergy doctor put me on a inhaler (cannot remember the medicine, but it came in a pill form, I had to put it in the inhaler, spun it to break up the pill and I then had to breathe that in). The dr said it was exercise induced asthma but who knows. Anyways, I later moved to another state and the issue slowly went away. BUT, as an adult, if I am in a pool that does not have good ventilation I will have the same fits and sometimes have to go outside to get my lungs clear. Then, my throat and lungs feel "gunky" for a couple days after that. Luckily I am in an awesome facility now (very tall ceilings and salt water system). So is there another pool that you can go to that may offer better air quality? Full snorkel mask maybe? Good luck to you and I hope you find a solution!

Chicken of the Sea
April 4th, 2013, 05:39 PM
don't give up hope! I was really really in a bad way after swimming and I'd often have to swim in the evenings because I knew I'd be a mess for the rest of the day. I had continual sinus infections, which nearly always ended up in bronchitis. I tried many nose plugs that fell off or had no effect until finally finding one around Christmas that actually works. Keep trying different nose plugs. The one that I ended up with is a little plastic Tyr brand one. It's really helped.

I drive an hour to swim in the lake whenever I can and that was a godsend until a couple of years ago when I started having severe allergic reactions to pollen!!! I suppose I'll have to wear the noseclip for lake swims now, at least in allergy season...

Salt water is the answer. it fixes everything....good luck

April 4th, 2013, 06:21 PM
I am sorry to learn of your recent difficulty as a side effect of swimming in chlorine water. My personal experience is not as severe as you described, but became more exacerbated as I grew older. The most significant factor minimizing congestion and post nasal drip in my case was swimming in salt based sanitized pools, which many public pools seem to be in this area of Florida. It was just luck as we had to move to this area for the job.

Another factor is a daily supplementation blend that includes flaxseed oil. I started the flaxseed oil mainly due to a very severe situation of dry-eyes, but surprisingly it also seems to assist with clearing up my ears, nose, and throat too. Another minor factor could also be that I started using those shower gloves for skin exfoliation and would really scrub and rinse very thoroughly after each swim, particularly around my face, eyes, nose, and ears (gently of course). Everyone is different as we all know, so please keep seeking for more answers, for as swimmers, we all would like to see you continue as best possible, but can understand the challenge you face. Perhaps an allergist could be useful, if you have not already been through a consultation. The full snorkel mask as Atlantic mentioned could be a possibility. Sincerely wishing for you to find a solution!

April 4th, 2013, 07:54 PM
I also have trouble with sneezing and runny nose after swimming. Do you take Claritin or anything like that? I find that it really helps. I can't just take it as needed, I have to be on a regimen of it every day for it to really work.

April 4th, 2013, 08:05 PM
I always sneeze when I get out of the pool! Try using a NetiPot post swim.

April 4th, 2013, 10:54 PM
Different pools use different types of chlorine and filters. I feel different after swimming in a Bromine pool than after a chlorine pool. I also swim in an indoor pool that uses what they call a sun-enhanced filtering system and they hardly use any chlorine at all. If you live in a pool-rich area try several different pools and see if this helps.

Allen Stark
April 5th, 2013, 01:29 AM
My wife was having this problem.Then she starting using nasal irrigation with a Neti pot after swimming and was better.Just using a saline spray shortly after you get out helps too.

April 6th, 2013, 10:18 PM
About 6 to 8 years ago I suffered from horrible post swim sneezing and total sinus congestion. I would swim before work, then spend the rest of the day at work feeling miserable. After talking to my doctor about it, he put me on a nose spray...Flonase I believe. I also took Allegra 180s. If I took these before I swam, I had no symptoms after my swim. It saved me, I could continue to swim. I also found that if I swim first thing in the morning (within an hour of waking up) I am way more sensitive than if I swim later in the day. Can't explain the reason for that... Now I don't swim first thing in the morning and I generally don't need to take any allergy meds. Good luck.

Woofus B. Loofus
April 7th, 2013, 10:24 PM
vo2, sorry to hear you're suffering. I had the same problem for years at my closest pool (local high school). Nothing helped much. I began to suspect it was the pool chemistry, because the occasional swim elsewhere caused no similar problems. More than once I asked them to check the chemistry, to no avail. I switched to a college pool a few years ago and since then have had zero problems, except...some months back, circumstances put me in the old high school pool for a day: like clockwork, same problems as before.

So it could definitely be the pool you're using. And it's not always easy to get management to clean up their act, or keep it clean if they try. Switching to a higher quality rig, if there's one available, might be the permanent solution.

If not, saline solution blasts up the nostrils right after getting back to the locker room might help. That instantly removes much of the chemical irritant and gives your sinuses half a chance of not going into the full-blown reaction cycle. Best of luck finding a way to stick with swimming.