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 possess a completely waterproof insulin pump or use a waterproof insulin pump cover.
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.
What are the Limits of Water-Resistant Insulin Pumps?
All insulin pumps and devices have IPX ratings. A product's IPX 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.
How to Swim With an Insulin Pump
Disconnect From Your Insulin Pump
For non-waterproof insulin pumps, the best approach to prevent water damage is to disconnect them 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 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 that 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, it's recommended to remove it before getting into the water.
Invest In Waterproof Accessories
With waterproof accessories, you have an extra layer of protection for your insulin pump. Companies offer specially designed cases or pouches that can safeguard your pump from water splashes and potential submersion. These accessories can help maintain the integrity of your insulin pump during water activities.
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.
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 make sure they are not too low and prevent low blood sugar 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. It's also important to 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.
If you're not sure about adjusting your basal insulin or whether to have a carb snack before swimming, you can 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 helps 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.
Swimming with an attached insulin pump is possible, but it depends on the pump type. While Waterproof pumps can remain on the body during water activities, non-waterproof pumps require full 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 exercise, and after 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.
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