While most insulin pumps are designed to be water-resistant, they shouldn't be used inside water for extended periods or exposed to high humidity levels. Hence, it's crucial to protect your device when washing, bathing, or swimming—unless you have a waterproof insulin pump or cover.

Key Facts

  • Insulin pumps mimic the function of a healthy pancreas by delivering rapid-acting insulin into the body from a reservoir based on the person's dosage need. They have a computer and motor to regulate insulin dosage and monitor glucose levels continuously.
  • Most insulin pumps must be disconnected while swimming, but a few, especially those with a waterproof feature, can be worn.
  • When swimming with an insulin pump, it is advisable to reduce the insulin delivery rate because swimming, like any other physical activity, may lower blood glucose levels.
  • If unsure of how much to reduce your basal insulin or whether to take a carbohydrate-based snack before swimming, talk to your doctor.

Can You Swim With an Insulin Pump?

Unless you have a waterproof insulin pump, you cannot swim while using one. Most insulin pumps must be disconnected before entering the water, whether at the beach, pool, sauna, or showering.

Be warned that the infusion set's adhesive may lose effectiveness if submerged in water for an extended time. If you frequently go swimming, consider bandaging the bond with waterproof adhesives. Always check for cracks or minor damage if your insulin pump is waterproof. This might cause issues and break the waterproof seal on your insulin pump.

What are the Limits of Water-Resistant Insulin Pumps?

All insulin pumps and devices have IPX ratings. An IPX rating reveals how much water a product can withstand, from a few drops to a few splashes to a full 20-minute dip in the pool.

Most modern insulin pumps can be submerged for up to 60 minutes at depths of up to 25 feet, but you should read your pump's handbook to learn the specifics of your particular pump and other diabetes devices. Talk to your doctor for advice on this.

The receiver (like your phone), where you read your real blood sugar level on a continuous glucose monitor (C.G.M.), is usually not waterproof, despite all of today's newest C.G.M. sensors and transmitters being water resistant.

Remember that if you swim too far from your receiver, your sensor and transmitter may stop communicating. Older C.G.M. transmitter models may lose the capacity to communicate with the receiver when submerged in water, as they are not water resistant. Medtronic Guardian, Dexcom, and Freestyle Libre are waterproof C.G.M. devices; You can easily shower and swim with them.

Don't forget to carry a backup fingerstick glucose meter and test strips if your diabetes equipment malfunctions due to an accident or other unforeseen circumstance. Packing extra insulin and syringes or pen needles for extended beach outings is crucial in case your pump is damaged by sand, sun, or water.

How to Swim With an Insulin Pump

Disconnect From Your Insulin Pump

Disconnection from non-waterproof insulin pumps before bathing or showering is the best way to prevent water damage. Knowing that your insulin pump consistently delivers tiny doses to your body could help you understand how disconnecting it might affect your blood glucose levels.

It is advised never to take off your insulin pump for more than one hour to prevent an increase in glycemia brought on by a shortage of insulin.

Disconnecting your smartphone to take a shower shouldn't typically be a problem. However, you should monitor your blood sugar levels before, during, and after the bath to observe how your body reacts if you wish to take a long soak.

Go for Water-resistant Insulin Pumps

Before diving into the pool or heading to the beach, ensure your insulin pump is water-resistant. Many modern pumps are designed to withstand exposure to water, but it's crucial to check your specific model's specifications and IPX ratings. If your pump is not water-resistant, removing it before getting into the water is recommended.

Invest In Waterproof Accessories

With waterproof accessories, your insulin pump has an extra layer of protection. Companies offer specially designed cases or pouches that safeguard your pump from water splashes and potential submersion. These accessories can help maintain the integrity of your insulin pump during water activities.

Aquapac waterproof insulin pump case
$64.95

I never swim or shower with my insulin pump. Before showering I disconnect it. When I go swimming, rafting, or snorkeling I use a separate waterproof case from Aquapac. For me this solution works best and also give me a more secure feeling when I go into the water.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/16/2024 03:41 am GMT
Ely Rafting In Slovenia

Above, you can see me rafting in Slovenia. The Aquapac is on my back under my wetsuit, and it gave me the absolute 100% safe feeling that my insulin pump was waterproof.

Know the Impact of Warm Baths or Showers on Insulin

Before taking a shower or bath, insulin-dependent diabetics should be aware that warmth might occasionally cause the body to absorb insulin more quickly, and some C.G.M. devices might give inaccurate readings because of the heat.

Always check your blood glucose levels before taking a warm bath or shower to ensure they are not too low and prevent low blood sugar from happening. As increased movement often lowers blood glucose levels, it is advisable to limit the pace of insulin delivery if you are swimming with your pump on.

As you probably already know, insulin is a temperature-sensitive medication that can degrade in heat. The insulin inside your pump may decay if left outside for a lengthy time in temperatures above 80°F (26°C).

If you take a long hot bath, hot tub, or sauna, it is advised to disconnect your pump and leave it outside the room in a cool, dry location.

Check Your Blood Sugar Levels More Often

The physical exertion of swimming can cause your blood sugar levels to drop. Check your blood sugar levels before swimming to ensure you are not at the low limit and to avoid developing hypoglycemia while in the water. It's also important to check your blood sugar about 30 minutes after doing out.

Lower Your Basal Insulin

Lowering your basal insulin for a certain period might be a good idea when swimming. This will make sure your blood glucose levels won't drop that fast.

If you're unsure about adjusting your basal insulin or whether to have a carb snack before swimming, talk with your doctor. They can guide you based on your individual needs.

Testing your blood glucose before, after, and ideally midway through a swim is a good idea. This will help you understand how swimming impacts your blood sugar levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can people with diabetes shower with insulin pumps?

Yes, there is no problem with that if your insulin pump is waterproof.

If you don't feel comfortable taking your insulin pump out of your body every day to take a shower or a bath, you can keep it there instead. This approach is a little "riskier" and necessitates taking some safety measures to prevent the pump from getting too wet. You might need to ask your pharmacist for a more extended tubing set to ensure your motions are unrestricted.

Which insulin pump is waterproof?

The MiniMed™ 670G pump may submerge for up to 24 hours to a depth of 12 feet (3.5 meters). When the reservoir and tubing are correctly inserted, and at the time of manufacture, the MiniMed 670G is splashproof and waterproof.

The following Minimed pumps are also waterproof: the MiniMed™ 630G, MiniMed™ 670G, and MiniMed™ 770G.

However, you must ensure that you double-check the effectiveness of waterproof pumps before relying on them to protect your insulin.

"Please do mind that you test this. I never swim or shower with my insulin pump. Before showering, I disconnect it. When I go swimming, rafting, or snorkeling, I use a separate waterproof case," says Catherine, a member of our community who has lived with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years.

Are hot tubs safe for people with diabetes?

Insulin pump users should use a hot tub in between site changes. The most straightforward approach to avoid harming your insulin is to time your infusion site change to coincide with your hot water soak.

After using a hot tub, closely monitor your blood sugar to ensure you're getting enough insulin. You may need to set up a fresh pod if your insulin has been damaged and you have persistent highs.

How do you cover your insulin pump while swimming?

The infusion set's glue can occasionally come loose in the water. Consider placing a light wetsuit, scuba top, or t-shirt over the infusion site to make it more secure, and wrap the area in a wide waterproof bandage. While swimming, check your blood sugar every half an hour.

Can I go swimming with a tandem insulin pump?

No. Users shouldn't use their pumps while bathing, swimming, or taking a shower. But you can unplug your pump and put it somewhere safe and cool. A Medtronic insulin pump is waterproof and a better choice for showering and swimming.

Can people with diabetes swim in a pool?

People with diabetes benefit significantly from swimming. It can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and assist with gestational diabetes and Type 2 blood sugar management.

Conclusion

Swimming with an attached insulin pump is possible depending on the pump type. While Waterproof pumps can remain on the body during water activities, non-waterproof pumps require complete disconnection. If you choose to disconnect, ensure swimming safety and monitor blood glucose levels before, during (if possible), and after swimming.

For those new to swimming, keeping a record of blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise can provide valuable insights into how swimming affects your levels. This information can be instrumental in making preparations smoother for future swims. Remember, your healthcare team is your best resource for tailored advice on managing diabetes while staying active.

Sources

At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

  1. Medtronic.com Minimed 670G Insulin Pump
  2. Hyper Gear IPX Waterproof Rating Guide
  3. NIDDK What is a CGM?
  4. Wikipedia What is glycemia?
  5. National Library of Medicine Plasma glucose
  6. Diabetes UK swimming when you have diabetes
  7. Michigan State University Swimming while wearing an insulin pump

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About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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