It’s not just disgusting, it can be quite worrying too – because some of the dirt inside our shower spaces could bring fatal consequences
Jumping in the shower is meant to leave us feeling fresh, clean and invigorated.
Many of us spend hours a week scrubbing, buffing and enjoying a hot shower to invigorate us in the morning or send us off to sleep at night.
But startling new research reveals the spray that comes out of a unit could be more dangerous and dirtier than the water in our loo.
Scientists at Manchester University studied the slime that builds up inside showers on behalf of shower disinfectant system Shower Klenz.
Their research into bathroom scum found bacteria and fungi linked to a range of illnesses from Legionnaires’ and Crohn’s disease to septicaemia and skin, hair, ear and eye complaints.
Dr Paul McDermott, a former Health and Safety Executive Inspector and an expert in Legionella risk control, has been monitoring the findings.
He said: “Nobody wants to stand under a shower knowing the water coming out of it is dirty.
“But water from an untreated shower could contain more bacteria than you’d find in your toilet.
“The aerosols created when you’re stood under the spray can send any bacteria from the water system into your lungs, onto your body and, in certain circumstances, into the bloodstream too.”
Here, we look at how the bugs lurking in your bathroom can harm your health.
People catch Legionnaires’ disease when airborne droplets carrying the Legionella bacteria are inhaled into the lungs.
Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water between 20-45C, with temperatures of between 35-37C being the optimum – perfect for those who like their showers hot.
Symptoms can be flu-like at the start; tiredness, a cough, headache, high temperature or chills and fever and can be it is often misdiagnosed.
But if not treated quickly, it can be fatal – particularly in patients whose immune system has already been weakened such as the elderly, people with underlying respiratory problems or who are recovering from illness or surgery.
Smokers are also at greater risk of contracting the disease.
Dr Paul McDermott explained: “The mortality rate for Legionnaires’ disease is around 12% but when people contract the disease in hospital it rises to about 30% – more than double what it would be in the community outside.
“That is because many hospital patients are already immunocompromised.
“Legionnaires’ disease can affect anybody so, if you have symptoms and are concerned, go to your GP or hospital.
“There is a very simple test that can give a diagnosis within an hour. The key is that people do ask for that test if they are genuinely concerned that they have the disease.
“Legionnairres’ can be treated with antibiotics if administered early enough but without treatment it can kill.”
Out of the 922 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales between 2012 and 2014, 89 were fatal.
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