Living with an insulin pump or any other medical gadget permanently fastened to your body is challenging. While these excellent technologies help people with diabetes manage their condition and control their blood sugar levels, they frequently raise several questions.


Even though most insulin pumps are water-resistant, they shouldn't be submerged in water or subjected to high humidity levels. Therefore, you must take extra steps to preserve your device when washing, bathing, or swimming unless you have a 100% waterproof insulin pump or are using a waterproof insulin pump cover/bag.

The Effect of Temperature on Insulin

When exposed to high temperatures, insulin loses some of its efficiency. The insulin is less effective the longer it is exposed to high temperatures. In addition to decreasing insulin efficiency, high temperatures can also widen blood vessels, resulting in low blood sugar. It is recommended to stay inside during the warmest part of the day if you have diabetes and to regularly check your blood sugar levels for changes as soon as the temperature starts to climb.

Insulin can resist heat up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit before it starts to break down and lose its ability to alter blood sugar levels effectively. Insulin works best and lasts the longest at temperatures between 36 and 46 degrees.

You must never leave your insulin in the hot sun or a hot automobile, even if it is tucked away in your luggage. Always keep your diabetic supplies away from the sun.

Use an insulin cooler to safeguard your insulin pumps, insulin pens, and vials. Depending on how hot it is outside and what insulin cooler you are using, this will, provide you with an hour to 24 hours of protection. Do not place your insulin on top of an ice pack directly. Insulin damage is caused by both overheating and freezing.

What Are the Limits of Waterproof Insulin Pumps?  

All insulin pumps and devices have I.P.X. ratings. A product's I.P.X. rating reveals how much water it 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 in most cases 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. When submerged in water, older C.G.M. transmitter models may lose the capacity to communicate with the receiver as they are not water resistant. Medtronic Guardian, Dexcom, and Freestyle Libre are waterproof C.G.M. devices and you can easily shower and swim with them.

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

Can You Swim With an Insulin Pump?

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

Be warned that if submerged in water for an extended time, the infusion set's adhesive may lose effectiveness. If you frequently go swimming, think about bandaging the bond with waterproof adhesive.

If your insulin pump is waterproof always check for cracks or minor damages. This might cause issues and break the waterproof seal on your insulin pump.

How to Prepare When You Go Swimming With an Insulin Pump?

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. Please do mind that you test this. 

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Disconnecting from your insulin pump

The best approach to prevent water damage to your insulin pump is to disconnect it before taking a bath or shower. Knowing that your insulin pump consistently delivers tiny insulin doses to your body could help you understand how disconnecting it might affect your blood glucose levels.

It is advised never to turn 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.

Precautions for people with diabetes about warm baths and showers

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 make sure they are not too low and prevent hypoglycemia from happening. As the increased movement would often lower blood glucose levels, it is advised 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).

Disconnecting your pump and leaving it outside the room in a cool, dry location is advised if you're taking a long hot bath, a hot tub, or a sauna.

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. Always check your blood sugar about 30 minutes after doing out.

Lower your basal insulin

When you are swimming, it might be a good idea to lower your basal insulin for a certain period. This will make sure your blood glucose levels won't drop that fast.

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.

How to Prepare for Low Blood Sugar

Be mindful of your body

Low blood sugar has distinct effects on each individual. You can experience shaking, sweat, or a racing heart due to physical activity. You can get irritable or unpleasant. Learn the symptoms of low blood sugar so you can address it before it becomes a problem.

As soon as symptoms appear, check your blood sugar

This is something that various meters can perform. A glucose level of less than 70 mg/dl is considered low if your machine tests "whole blood." Low blood sugar levels are defined as 80 mg/dl or below on modern meters that assess "plasma glucose." What should your objective numbers be? Ask your doctor.

Always keep foods with fast sugars on hand

You'll need to consume 15 grams of simple carbohydrates to swiftly get your blood sugar back to a healthy level. Protein- and fat-rich foods won't work quickly enough.

Consider using: 

  • Juice, 1/2 cup (4 ounces), and 
  • Ordinary (not diet) soda, 1/2 cup
  • A nibble of fruit, such as an apple, an orange, or a half-banana
  • One tablespoon of plain sugar or sugar mixed with water
  • Glucose tablets or liquid glucose

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Can someone with type 1 diabetes enjoy themselves in the water? Yes. But to swim correctly, we must be aware of and respectful of the difficulties, requirements, and obligations involved. It's critical to plan for the storage of all your equipment, pack extras, and ensure that your companions are informed in an emergency.

Last update on 2022-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 am currently using a Medtronic Guardian 4 and a Minimed 780G insulin pump with Humalog.

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