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As a physician I have the responsibility of sharing some health information that will inform you of some medical conditions that are common in our surfing population. Do you remember having a long surf session and that night on a date with your girlfriend you had sudden episode of a considerable ammount of sea water draining out of your nostrils in a very love sharing moment!
This is not an anomaly or coincidence, this water came from small skull cavities that are called as the paranasal sinuses. As you duck dive sea water enter this cavities,some drain and some stays in.
Sinusitis is defined as inflamation of the mucus linning of the sinuses. This inflamation cause increased production of mucus that will plug a natural draining orifice inside the sinuses called ostium. When this are blocked bacteria start to grow causing some clasic symptoms: marked pressure located in the area of sinus involved, fever, tender eye movments, sorethroat, post nasal drip and dry cough.
The problem is that due to water pollution and high quantity of bacteria, this condition can become very dangerous. There are multiple cases in which surfers has suffered meningitis and encephalitis (brain infections) due to colonization of antibiotic resistant bacteria or fecal bacterias on infected waters. Cases are documented after river floods that drain high quantities of bacteria to the ocean and also areas of poor sewage management.
We have to be aware of this serious condition and know the symptoms to be treated promptly. Remember to wait at least 24 hours after heavy rain or flodding to go surfing, get informed about water quality evaluations in your area, previous mentioned physical symptoms associated with progressive headache, nausea and vomits. Prompt treatment will avoid complications!