Beware of Hot Tub Lung

Mayo researchers cite cases of lung inflammation after spa use

FRIDAY, Nov. 15 , 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Soaking in a hot tub could put your lungs in hot water.

As more and more Americans get hot tubs, doctors are likely to see an increase in the cases of what's called "hot tub lung," Mayo Clinic researchers say.

In the November issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the researchers present the cases of two people with lung inflammation caused by hot tub use. The respiratory problems in both people improved when they stopped using their hot tubs and were treated with corticosteroids.

The researchers say they suspect mycobacteria growing in the hot tub water caused the lung inflammations in the two patients.

Previous reports about hot tub lung are unclear about the exact nature of the disorder and whether it's an infection or hypersensitivity pneumonitis, the Mayo researchers say. All reported cases of hot tub lung have been in people using hot tubs indoors at a private home.

Hot tubs provide an ideal environment for the mycobacteria. The warm water promotes their growth and owners often fail to clean the tubs or change water filters as often as they should, the researchers say.

The steams and bubbles generated by a hot tub let the mycobacteria become airborne and inhaled by people in the hot tub.

Even chlorine isn't guaranteed protection against mycobacteria, because chlorine loses much of its disinfectant power when water is warmer than 84 degrees F.

The Mayo researchers suggest doctors treating people with respiratory problems include questions about hot tub use when reviewing patients' symptoms.

More information

Here are some hot tub safety tips.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Nov. 12, 2002
Consumer News