Hot tubs, whirlpools and jacuzzis are common in both professional spas and traditional homes. Hot tubs help to relieve muscle pain, aid stress and reduce anxiety. Though hot tubs are generally safe for healthy individuals when used as directed, health risks are associated with hot tub use or misuse. Hot tubs can cause injury as well as infection if users are not mindful of instructions for upkeep and use of the hot tub.
You should keep hot tub water below 104 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid burns or overheating. Most hot tub manufacturers suggest a time limit of 20 minutes per hot tub session. If the water is over 104 degrees or if individuals remain in the hot tub for more than 20 minutes, users increase their risk of heat-related illness and injury, including heart attack, stroke and brain damage. Pregnant women should not use hot tubs because the delicate fetal brain is subject to damage or injury if exposed to prolonged periods of increased heat. Young children and babies are also at increased risk for heat-related injury or illnesses caused by dehydration.
Prolonged exposure to elevated heat levels can cause negative reactions for people taking certain kinds of medication. Many people with heart disease use anticoagulant drugs which thin the blood. Blood thinners increase sensitivity to temperature extremes, and users can suffer feelings of nausea or light headedness. Blood pressure medications can demonstrate similar interactions in hot tubs. Alcohol causes dehydration which can cause people to feel lightheaded or even faint, increasing the risk for injury or drowning.
Hot tubs require a steady supply of chemicals to kill bacteria that live in both the water and the hot tub structure. Folliculitis is a common infection caused by hot tubs that causes painful, pimple-like bumps on the skin; treat it with antibiotics. Respiratory and ear infections can also result if a person submerges his head underneath bacteria-filled water or inhales bacteria-infected spray from the splashing water. Legionnaires' disease is a much less common infection that causes pneumonia-like symptoms as a result of breathing in the mist from a hot tub. If untreated, the condition is sometimes fatal.
Hannah Wahlig began writing and editing professionally in 2001. Her experience includes copy for newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as book editing. She is also a certified lactation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount Holyoke College, and Master's degrees in education and community psychology from the University of Massachusetts.