Myths and Truths of Winter Swimming

Date:  Nov 07-2008

            Over time, there have been wives tales about winter exposure that have left many parents confused and believing these myths. The following medical facts were given by Dr. Norm Payne, of Payne Pediatrics in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Myth #1: Swimming, cold and wind may cause ear infections.
Fact:   Middle ear infections, common in small children, are caused by viruses or infectious colds. Typically, fluid from the Eustachian tubes in the ear, drain through the nose and throat. During illness, passages constrict, and the fluid builds up and becomes infected. Swimming causes swimmer’s ear, which is not a middle ear problem, and is more easily treated.
Myth #2: Parents think a clear, runny nose is not contagious.
Fact:   A clear, runny nose does not necessarily indicate a lack of infection. On the other hand, a colored discharge does not necessarily mean infection. Other symptoms should be considered as well as the length of time the symptoms have been present. Allergies may last for a few days, while an upper-respiratory infection will usually last for ten days.
Myth #3: Sudden changes in temperature or getting caught in the rain will cause colds.
Fact:    If one becomes ill after experiencing these weather conditions, Dr. Payne believes the illness and the weather are just coincidence. Viruses cause colds, not the weather. However, Payne does agree changes in weather conditions may cause allergies to flare up. Sneezing and runny noses lasting a few days are indications of an allergic reaction; colds last ten days.

The truth is, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under 5 in the state of California, and it is 100% preventable. There are more pools in Southern California than any other state. If you don’t have one, your neighbor does. Enrolling children in a year round water safety and swimming program, and educating yourself in CPR are two essential skills that have life saving potential. Don’t wait for summer…Learn to Swim Now…for LIFE!