Pump and CGM advice for summer living

By Helen D'emden, Donna Itzstein, Fleur Kelly

Diabetes Queensland CDEs


It's summer time again and we love heading to the beach or pool to cool off. For those wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or an insulin pump, it's important to consider how to manage these devices when swimming and around water.


Insulin pumps and CGMs are expensive and, more importantly, pumps deliver insulin and the Dexcom 5 CGM informs the delivery of this life-saving drug, so it's essential that pumps and CGM devices remain accurate and reliable.


Waterproof and water-resistant ratings are available in user manuals for all such devices.


With the Federal Government subsidies for CGM for people under 21 years in effect, more children, adolescents and young adults are wearing such devices.


CGM devices can be worn alone to track blood glucose levels or in combination with an insulin pump.


CGMs have several components: a sensor, transmitter and receiver.


The blood glucose sensor is located just under the skin and measures glucose levels. It's attached to a transmitter which sends the glucose data wirelessly to the receiver or mobile phone, where the results can be viewed.


The combined sensor and transmitter are water-tight when securely connected, and can be worn when swimming or showering.


Very hot baths or jacuzzis are not recommended as they may reduce the life of the sensors.


The receivers are not waterproof, and should be kept in a safe, dry place. The receiver, which is not waterproof, won't receive glucose data while swimming but when you are out of the water and back in proximity to the receiver the data will download.


The attachment site must be dry, clean and free of moisturiser or sunscreen.


If you are having issues with sensors not sticking in this weather, make sure you're not applying sensors straight after a bath/shower or physical activity.


When you swim or surf, take an extra cannula set just in case of displacement.


You could increase the adhesive potential by wiping the application area with alcohol wipes.


If you need further help, contact your supplying company to ask about an adhesive wipe.


You could try a waterproof clear dressing such as Opsite or Primapore with a hole cut in the middle for the transmitter. Do not cover the transmitter with a dressing at any time as this interferes with the signal. 


It is common to disconnect a pump while swimming.


Keep in mind, though, that manufacturers usually rate the degree to which a pump is water resistant or waterproof.


They are not water-proof for scuba diving or jumping from high diving boards.


It's also important to remember that insulin pumps may have waterproof ratings when brand new but there is no guarantee they remain waterproof with the usual wear and tear associated with day to day living.


Waterproof ratings are not valid if the pump is dropped, has hair-line cracks, or damage.


Pumps can develop very fine hair-line cracks, some of which are not visible to the eye, or the seals around the battery or cartridge chamber can wear, making them prone to water damage.


Follow the maintenance guidelines outlined in the user manual and always notify your pump manufacturer if you notice any signs of damage with your pump.


It is advised to disconnect pumps when showering and swimming, and leave them in a safe, dry place or container.


As well as the risk of water damage, the pump could become dislodged and lost in the surf, river or lake, never to be seen again, so best to keep it dry and safe.


Insulin pumps are fairly temperature insulated.


If you are disconnecting your pump, leave it in a cool, dark and secure place. Direct sunlight can overheat the pump and the insulin inside.


Placing your pump in the esky may degrade the insulin by freezing it.


Consider adding your insulin pump to your home and contents insurance in case of damage or theft.


Check with your pump company on what your warranty covers.


Remember that swimming is considered a moderately intense to vigorous exercise, so it's important to have a plan to monitor and manage blood glucose levels during the activity and afterwards, as with other forms of exercise. 


Monitoring blood glucose assists in avoiding extreme fluctuations in blood glucose levels and avoiding hypoglycaemia.


It's recommended to check blood glucose levels regularly (every 30 minutes for a new activity) and ideally reconnect to the pump each hour.


The pump should not be disconnected for more than two continuous hours.


No device is indestructible, so think about protecting your device this summer when you head off to the beach or pool.


For more information please contact us on 1300 136 588.

Articles just for you!

Get content tailored just for you through by choosing your topics of interest.

Choose Now >