Summary: Can you swim with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)? This question is a common concern for those who wear CGMs to monitor their blood sugar levels. While many CGMs claim to be waterproof and suitable for showering, swimming in the pool or ocean can still pose a risk to the device’s accuracy and functionality. In this article, we will explore the guidelines for swimming with a CGM, the potential risks, and ways to protect your CGM while enjoying water activities.
1. Understanding CGM Water Resistance
Most CGMs are designed to be worn 24/7, including during showering and exercise. However, the level of water resistance varies between different models and manufacturers. Some CGMs have an IP rating, which determines the level of protection against liquids, dust, and solids. Generally, an IP rating of IP67 or above indicates that a device is suitable for immersion in water for limited periods. However, it does not guarantee full water resistance, especially when exposed to high pressure or intense water activities such as diving or water skiing.
If you plan to swim with your CGM, it is essential to check the device’s water resistance rating and guidelines from the manufacturer. Some CGMs come with special adhesive patches or tapes to secure the sensor and transmitter during water activities. These patches may also improve the device’s adhesion and reduce the risk of detachment due to sweat or friction.
In case of accidental exposure to water or moisture, some CGMs have a moisture barrier or indicator to alert you of potential damage or loss of accuracy. If you notice any changes in readings or function after swimming, contact your healthcare provider or the manufacturer for advice.
2. Potential Risks of Swimming with a CGM
Swimming with a CGM can pose several risks, including:
- Damage to the sensor or transmitter from high water pressure or impact;
- Loss of accuracy due to variations in temperature, humidity, or water composition;
- Dislodgement of the device from the skin due to movement or friction;
- Increased risk of infection or irritation from prolonged exposure to water and bacteria.
To minimize these risks, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for swimming with a CGM and take extra precautions, such as:
- Protecting the device with a waterproof patch or cover;
- Avoiding intense water activities that may dislodge or damage the device;
- Drying the device thoroughly after swimming and checking for any signs of damage or malfunction;
- Monitoring your blood sugar levels frequently and not relying solely on the CGM data.
3. Tips for Protecting Your CGM While Swimming
Here are some tips to help you protect your CGM while enjoying water activities:
- Check the water resistance rating and guidelines for your CGM before swimming;
- Apply a waterproof adhesive patch or tape over the sensor and transmitter, following the manufacturer’s instructions;
- Take care not to bump, scratch, or twist the device when wearing it in the water;
- Avoid exposing the device to extreme temperatures, such as hot tubs or saunas;
- Monitor your blood sugar levels frequently using fingerstick tests, as CGMs may not be accurate during or after water activities;
- Replace the sensor and transmitter regularly, as recommended by the manufacturer, to ensure optimal accuracy and function.
4. Alternatives to Wearing a CGM While Swimming
If you prefer not to wear your CGM while swimming, there are some alternatives to consider:
- Check your blood sugar levels frequently using fingerstick tests before, during, and after water activities;
- Consult your healthcare provider or diabetes educator for personalized advice on adjusting your insulin or medication doses during water activities;
- Use a waterproof medical alert bracelet or necklace to inform others of your diabetes and how to treat hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia;
- Keep a glucose meter and supplies in a waterproof pouch or container to use during water activities if needed.
Swimming with a continuous glucose monitor can be a convenient and useful tool for managing diabetes, but it also requires careful consideration and precautions. By understanding the water resistance rating, potential risks, and protective measures, you can enjoy water activities while keeping your CGM safe and accurate. If you have any concerns or questions, consult your healthcare provider or the manufacturer of your CGM for guidance.