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Chlorine trouble

Had a message from a reader this morning asking how to stop chlorine making her sneeze... Has anyone else experienced this? Any tips?

I suggested a quick word with the doc in case it's an allergy, but be good to hear if anyone has suffered from similar!


  • I get this reaction and it took me a while to make the link. I just use a nose clip now and that does the trick, some are better than others though so you may need to play around with a few to get the right fit. Cured it overnight.

  • SkettySketty Posts: 24

    Chlorine and other pool chemicals are designed to kill 'germs' or at least restrict them from multiplying. Like us, 'germs' are animals, which is why the chemicals aren't very good for us either.

    I always leave the pool feeling like I've got flu coming on, my wife says I always look awful when I come back from a pool session (well she says I look awful anyway but especially so when I come back from the pool  ).

    Anyway, it passes after a few hours and while I don't sneeze in the pool I do tend to afterwards.

    After a sea swim my airways are saturated in salty water....I hate the taste of salt but pollution aside its probably not as bad for me as pool water.


  • Thanks both - some good advice here, I'll pass it on!

    Have to admit Sketty, I don't look my best after a pool session either...

    The nose clips comment is interesting. I was asked by (another) reader recently whether we recommend them for tri and my feeling was it comes down to personal preference. What's the general concensus though - useful or not?

  • SkettySketty Posts: 24

    I bought a nose clip last year....I wore it once and removed it half way through my swim. They are the devils work.

  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113

    A bit late to the party, with the change to the forum I was unable to find the thread regarding this problem from a couple of years ago.

    the sneezing problem maybe due to one of a number of factors.

    1. Different pools may use different composition of chemicals in them.

    2. If the pool is poorly ventilated or has a low roof that could have  cause a problem.


    1. Change pools.

    2. Nose clip as mentioned before.

    3. Flush sinus' after swimming by using a Neti pot and saline solution, or use and spray called Sterimar, available from most health stores, 

  • Hi All,

    I train at the John Charles Center in Leeds and there are quite a few of us who do the Iron Distance racing. 

    I had the same problem re Chlorine and Pollen to when open water swimming.

    A spray of Pirinase (Orange lid) once Tuesday and Thursday morning means I get reaction free swimming for Tues, thurs and Friday with no sneezing.

    Well worth a try.



  • Some good tips here, thanks everyone!

    Since posting originally, I've noticed I tend to have problems only after using some pools - which suggests they use different chemicals. Oddly a pool I swim in which is a lot warmer than the others affects me the most?!

  • Quick update on this. I now use two pools regularly. My local one I have no problems with, but the other one I use always makes me feel rotten for a good few hours afterwards (like I've got a really heavy, snotty, cold).

    Wondering what the different chemicals might be? Any ideas? This needs more research...!

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425


    The chemical most commonly used is chlorine but I understand that some use bromine (more costly but fewer allergic reactions) . More modern pools often use UV light to help clean up the water but also use chlorine or bromine to complete the job.

    Dirty pools require more chemicals. The dirt usually comes from those who don't shower before swimming. High levels of chlorine increase the chance of an allergic reaction - similar to hay fever. Also if you're a bit tired from other training sessions your immunity will be depressed, again increasing the chance of an allergic reaction.

    I find anti-histamines clear up the snotty cold symptoms fairly quickly & if in heavy training will take one before swimming.



  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425


    One of your earlier posts refers to water temperature. The warmer the water the faster the bugs breed. To counter this more chemicals are added. For many pools with mixed use there is a balance between warmth for the laggards and too much chlorine which would put everyone off


  • risris Posts: 1,002

    harry is right that different pools use different chemicals - UV is starting to be used more to reduce the amount of chemical but some pools may not use it yet. 

    this may have been a fib to tease the designers, but on a pool i worked on many years ago they told us that the classic tale of kids weeing in pools setting the chlorine level wasn't half as big an issue as residues from deodrants, make up and hair care chemicals.  that story might have been a big old lie, though...

    not sure what you can do about it, though, apart from try an anti-histamine tablet (nasal spray might be better), or wear a nose clip. swimming in a chemical hazard suit might be a stretch too far...

  • Thanks HarryD and ris – interesting tips! You might have a point about the immunity HarryD, I felt particularly awful after my swim session on Monday, but the day before had run a 10K race so maybe wasn't at my best.

    I think I'll just try and avoid the pool that makes me feel dodgy. Only trouble is, it's the one where I have sessions with my coach... Maybe I can persuade him to head to my local pool instead!

    Of course, the only worry now is that maybe my local pool is too cheapskate to use chemicals in the water. So god knows what I'm being exposed to!

    ris - you have a point about the aftershave. Never fails to amaze me how you can still smell it under water. Wrong, so wrong...

  • Barry PBarry P Posts: 3
    I used to also have the sneezing and runny nose issues.

    ii was told that it is due to the chlorine crystals lodging themselves at the back of your nose, causing the issues.

    the quick fix for me was the nose clip, but when I forget to take the clip, flushing the nose by snorting a handful of water in the shower also did the trick.

    This was hard to do at first, but now a few flushes in the shower and the sneezing doesn't happen.

  • Thanks Barry! The pool I go to has weird poolside communal showers though (I know, the trauma…) so not sure how popular I'll be if I start snorting!! 

    A few people have suggested a nose clip, so I'll definitely get one and give it a go!

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