Swimming and Sinus problems – Tips & Advice!

For some Triathletes and Swimmers, swimming in chlorinated water can serious irritation to their nose and sinuses. I know from personal experience just how bad it can get. After every pool session I had last year I suffered from a stuffy nose and blocked sinuses. Sometimes the effects would be light and I would just sneeze on and off for a few hours after training. But on other occasions I’d end up developing a proper case of Sinusitis which might mean having to take decongestants or worst case scenario, a trip to the Doctor.

For those of you who are not familiar with the symptoms of Sinusitis, its a condition in which your sinuses become blocked due to irritation or infection. This blockage can lead to an increase of pressure in your sinuses which can manifest itself as any or all of the below:

  • Restricted breathing
  • Headaches behind the eyes and forehead
  • Toothache (caused by pressure from the sinuses)
  • Interrupted sleep – caused by an inability to breath easily etc..

If your Sinusitis doesn’t clear then that can lead to an infection setting in, which can mean the poor sufferer might endure a fever, dizziness and may need antibiotics.

My reaction to chlorinated water was bad because I was already suffering from Hay Fever before I got in the pool. That meant that prior to my sinuses being touched by chlorine they were already inflamed, and that made them a perfect candidate for irritation.

Every ones body is different and what works for one person may not work for another, but here are a few tips which I found really helped me when I had to swim!

Nose Plugs

Nose plugs may not be sexy but they can do an excellent job at protecting your sinuses from Chlorinated water. If you suffer every time you use the pool then maybe the time has come to pick up a decent pair of Nose plugs and give them a try. It’ll take a little practice to get used to them, but once you adjust you wont even know they’re there! Tip: Make sure you purchase decent quality noseplugs (they are still inexpensive) so that they don’t break easily and fit snugly.

Here is an example!

Check the tightness of your Goggles

You’d be surprised how many Triathletes have their Goggles tightened way too much. Having you Goggles on too tight can increase the pressure on your sinuses and decrease your level of comfort in the water. Play around with your Goggle strap until you find the tightness that’s perfect for you!

Avoid overly Chlorinated pools

Different pools can use different amounts of chlorine in their water. Check around or put a post on your local Triathlon forum and find out which pools are know for having high levels of chlorine in their water. They are the ones to avoid. Chlorine levels are also higher just after a pool has chlorinated the water so it might be worth checking in with your local pool to find out when they add chlorine to the water. (you can give the chlorine levels a chance to reduce before getting in)

Do you have an Allergy?

Many people who suffer from nasal / sinus irritation in pools already have an allergy to something else. It was because of my Hay Fever that I so effected by chlorine. My sinuses we’re already under strain from reacting to pollen and throwing Chlorine (a natural irritant) into the mix didn’t help things. I discovered that once I identified my allergy and took steps to manage it, I was far more comfortable in the pool. A top tip is to visit your Doctor if you suspect you have an allergy and ask them for advice. Check out this article on how to manage  Hay-fever and Triathlon!

Sinus Rinse

Sinus Rinses are simple and cheap devices which allow you to was out your sinuses with Saline Solution. This practice can reslly help to wash out any chlorine which may linger in your nose or sinuses after a swim session. Check with your local pharmacy or click on the below link for more details!

These days I follow all of the above steps and have noticed a dramatic difference in how I feel after swimming. My sinuses still become a bit irritated, but in comparison to how it used to be it’s much better.

Safe Swimming!

 All information provided on NewToTri.com is done so in good faith and is not medical advice. If you’re considering changing your fitness routine or making a medical decision, it’s important to consult with a professional first.



One response to “Swimming and Sinus problems – Tips & Advice!”

  1. bil young says:

    Thanks for all the advice. Based onit, I went out and bought a swimmer’s nose clip and it works for me. Job done.

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