My official medical advice is to avoid hot tubs. Always.
They’re germ soup. The temperature is perfect for bacteria to thrive and multiply. You can get some nasty skin infections from going in those things, it’s possible to get lung infections from pathogens aerosolized by all the bubbling, and heaven forbid you should get that water in your mouth.
Just say no. Period, the end.
So after my workout this morning, I got into the hot tub at the gym.
When you’re a doctor, you’re always weighing risks and benefits. You’re uber aware of risks. It’s such a bedrock of the years of medical education and training that it becomes ingrained, automatic, a reflex, to think of what can go wrong with any decision you make and how you could kill someone. You’re also weighing how any decision you make can help someone. It’s a balance.
Anyhoo, back to the hot tub.
I recently decided to kick my fitness routine up a few notches. I pushed it a little too hard, and a few days ago I pulled a muscle.
Nothing like doing that to make you feel old.
I rested it a couple days and got back to my workouts yesterday and today. And today’s workout finished in the pool. Right next to the hot tub.
My muscle was a little sore. And the pool was a little cold. And the jets in the hot tub were on. And I knew how good it would feel to get in that hot water and hold my sore muscle near a jet.
I thought about the likely bacterial level. And I thought about how I see gym personnel checking pH levels and adding disinfectant regularly in both the pool and hot tub.
I thought about potential skin infections. And I thought about the fact that I haven’t shaved my legs since two days ago so probably didn’t have any micro-nicks in my skin where bacteria were likely to get in.
I thought about potential lung infections. And I thought about the fact that I have a good immune system and healthy lungs.
I thought about the potential of accidentally getting any of that water in my mouth. And I thought about how easy it would be to keep my face out of the water, and that no one was splashing.
I got in. And put my sore muscle against the jet. And stayed there a good 10 minutes.
And damn, did it feel good.
And it stopped the soreness.
I got out, took a shower (I may or may not have soaped up a second time), got dressed, and went on with my day.
Glad that today I did not follow my own medical advice, and will let you know if I end up with hot tub lung.
All I heard was, be vigilant about the chemicals and …don’t shave your legs. Done.