A new study has found bathing in the sea increases the risk of ear infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses that cause diarrhoea.
A major review of 40 previous studies found the risk of picking up stomach aches or diarrhoea increased by 29 per cent for bathers, compared to those who had not recently been swimming in the sea.
The likelihood of reporting an earache increased by 77 per cent after a swim, according to the research published on Monday in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Most of the studies entailed talking to people at beaches and near the seaside.
The academics behind the study said they hope the work leads to a push to clean up coastal waters. The research was undertaken by the University of Exeter Medical School and the UK-based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Dr Anne Leonard, an academic at the University of Exeter Medical School, said there was a “perception” in high-income countries that there was no health risks to spending time in the sea, but their research pointed in the opposite direction.
The study suggested that “pollution is still an issue affecting swimmers in some of the world’s richest countries”, she said.
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