A common question we receive from Oley members is whether a consumer can swim with a feeding tube or IV catheter. Below are some guidelines and resources. We advise you to speak with your physician first. (Click here for research on the relationship between bathing practices in HPN consumers and catheter related bloodstream infection.)
Tube vs. Catheter
Tube-fed consumers can swim if their stoma site is healed and healthy, and
they avoid a poor quality water source.
Because there is no evidence
that swimming has caused a central venous catheter (CVC) infection, many large
home parenteral nutrition (HPN) programs allow their
IV-fed consumers to swim once their catheter site is healed. (Allow at least 30
days after line placement.) They advise performing site care
as soon as the
consumer is finished swimming. (Note: a surgically implanted port that does not
have a needle accessing it and has a healed site does not need to be covered
before swimming. For this reason avid swimmers may prefer this type of
catheter.) Below are some product recommendations that may be helpful. Use
common sense and the resources listed below to judge the quality of water you
may swim in.
Dressings/PICC line covers
AquaGuard® is a large impermeable dressing that can be
used to cover a Hickman®, Broviac® or a PICC line when swimming. PICC lines can
also be covered with a waterproof sleeve: two products Oley is aware of are the
Dry Pro’s PICC Line Protector™
UK, and the
XeroSox®. Transparent impermeable surgical dressings
OpSite® are also acceptable.
Which Water is Safe?
Swimming is normally safe in the ocean,
although some beaches are polluted and should be avoided. Check the resources listed below for tips (in particular #1 & 2).
Swimming in a well-monitored, private pool
that is not used by pets/animals should also be fine. Properly treated swimming
pool water should pose no greater risk than shower or bath water. At a public
pool, however, your risk increases. Ask the pool manager for the bacteria count
before diving in. Check the resources below for tips (in particular #3 & 4).
Lakes and ponds are not a good choice
because the water is potentially stagnant, and likely has fecal matter from
birds, ducks, geese, etc. Check the resources below for tips (in particular #1 & 3).
Hot tubs, and the like, are out of the
question. The level of microorganisms growing in this warmer water makes them
too risky for consumers with an IV catheter and most
consumers on tube feeding.
Resources for Water Quality/Swimming
Information on Oceans,
Rivers, Lakes Water Quality Monitoring
Before You Go to the Beach
Information by State
The Water Quality and Health Web Site
Read how to recognize a healthy pool (Q&A #2), how to
protect yourself (Q&A#3) as well as questions to ask the pool operator (Q&A#8)
5. General Pool Safety
*Dry Pro offers a $5.00 coupon, if you mention you are an
Oley member when ordering.