By Helen D'emden, Donna Itzstein, Fleur
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
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
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
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
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
Placing your pump in the esky may degrade the insulin by
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
It's recommended to check blood glucose levels regularly (every
30 minutes for a new activity) and ideally reconnect to the pump
The pump should not be disconnected for more than two continuous
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.