Skip navigation

9012 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Nov 9, 2009 2:15 PM by lilienkamp
m20kflyer Rookie 1 posts since
Mar 20, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Nov 3, 2009 5:46 PM

Anyone else have bad sinus congestion after swimming?

I've been wanting to do my first triathlon for some time now.  I'm an active runner and cyclist in my 50s.  I got back into the pool to work on strengthening my swimming this past year.  But now I'm faced with a serious problem.  Whenever I swim in chlorinated water, my sinuses become so engorged and congested that I'm not able to breathe through my nose about six hours after getting out of the pool.  The congestion lasts until the next day.  I can only think that I've developed an allergy to chlorine, but the congested sinuses are the only atopic symptom and it doesn't respond to benadryl.  I'm not bothered with the congestion when swimming in fresh or salt water.  Has anyone else had such a problem and if so, what have you done to relieve the congestion?

  • Don Weirens Rookie 6 posts since
    Oct 18, 2007

    I have the same issue. I've been doing triathlons since 2001. Shorter training sessions/shorter races doesn't cause any MAJOR problems. If I swim for for an hour or more is when I have bigger issues. Here is what I have been doing:


    1. Shorter swims: remember to breath consistently. I do alternate breathing (through the mouth of course, but exhale almost exclusively out my nose under water. This seems to greatly limit problems.


    2. Longer swims: I use a Speedo competition nose clip. This works well. You need to get used to it, as breathing is strictly through the mouth. For training swimming, I have to stop every now and then to clear my sinuses (ie: do a 'snobber').


    Hope this helps-

  • CraigL92 Rookie 2 posts since
    Oct 3, 2007

    First of all, good luck in your training and in your first triathlon.  I also have sinus congestion after swimming in chlorinated water.  I have found using a sinus rinse and/or a saline spray have helped me recover more quickly and sometimes the homeopathic treatments prevent the congestion.  When I return from the pool I use one or both non-drug methods before the congestion increases.


    The two products I use are "NeilMed Sinus Rinse Allergy & Sinus Kit" and "Walgreen's Saline Nasal Spray".  I hope this helps.

  • TriElie Rookie 2 posts since
    Oct 6, 2008

    After many years in the pool, I seem to have developed something similar - virtually a mini cold with sneezing for a day or so.  I just started to try some nasal gels while swimming to see if that may help.  I tried it once so far and it did help.  I will keep trying these and see it they keep helping.


    I recently did some swimming in a large 50M pool in Paris.  It was very clean but had no chlorine.  I did not have the nasal after-effects there and did not yet start the nasal gel.  I guess the problem must be chlorine.


    Good luck.  Elie

  • lilienkamp Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    While I have suffered almost no allergic reactions or particualr sinus problems in other contexts, I used to suffer routine sinus congestion after swim workouts.  My experience suggests to me that there are two factors at work.


    One, CHLORINE.  Ever since the local natatorium where I do most of my swim workouts with a local masters swim class switched from chlorine to ultraviolet irradiation, I have noticed a great improvement in upper-respiratory response.  This would indicate that routine sinus congestion after swim workouts is due at least in part to some level of allergic response to chlorine, even in people (like me) who are not allergy-prone.  Other than using a nose clip (something that would be very difficult for me to adjust to), the only solution I know is finding a pool that uses some method of cleaning other than chlorine or other hyper-allergenic chemicals.


    Second, DEHYDRATION.  We tend not to notice how much we dehydrate through the skin and mucuous membranes during big swim workouts, but it clearly is a lot.  The warmer a pool is kept, the worse this problem is.  Yet I would often suffer post-swim workout sinus congestion (usually preceded by sneezing spells) only hours after getting out of the water.  This makes me suspect that the congestion occured at least in part as a consequence of my body's response to dehydration.  This problem has two solutions.  The most obvious is to drink a lot following workouts.  I start by consuming a bike-bottle's worth of protein recovery drink after each of my swim workouts, which typically range fron 4,000 to 5,000 meters.  Another solution is to seek cooler waters, preferably around 79 degrees (about the standard "competition" temperature).  Whenever possible, I avoid my local natatorium's over-heated (about 86 degrees) "training" pool for the 1,000-meter warmup that I do without any zoomers or other aids before my master's swim class, which is held in the "competition" pool.  An overheated pool only feels good when you first get in.

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...


  • Correct Answers - 10 points
  • Helpful Answers - 7 points