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Inhaled water and aspirated some while swimming. Having headache and cough. What to do?

Dec 2012
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Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2012
Answered : 1704 Questions
Yesterday, I was swimming in the ocean, in the SE United States. A large wave knocked me down, pulled me under and I got water all up in my nose and aspirated some. Today I have a headache and a cough.
This part of the ocean is located near a bay and this bay has a river that empties into it. Several days before, the ocean water was brownish (normally green) from all of the heavy rain. When I fell, the water had cleared up.
Am I at any risk for Naegleria fowleri? I know that Naegleria can be found in brackish water, I do not know if an area near a bay, with heavy surf, that can be affected by heavy rain , would be considered brackish.
What about any other infection risk?
Thank you
Posted Mon, 5 Aug 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Nsah Bernard 1 hour later

Thanks for posting on XXXXXXX

Well there is hardly evidence that Naegleria fowleri can be found in salty water and brackish water is water with more salinity than seawater. Naegleria fowleri is a amoeba that mostly affects the brain and usually causes meningoencephalitis in the few cases that have been determined. It hardly presents with respiratory symptoms.
Well if you are presenting with headache and cough, other causes could actually be ruled out, notably acute bronchitis (due to viral or bacteria etc), pneumonia etc.
Well waters do always have a lot of microbes and any one of them could be directly responsible for your symptoms but do not also forget that, you could still have not caught any infection from the water but rather contracted infection (airborne- which is the most common route of respiratory infections).

However, you will need to see a doctor so you can properly be examined and provided with appropriate medications.

Hope this helps and wish you the best.
Dr. Nsah
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