Can Insulin Pumps Get Wet? Here’s the Answer and What to Do!

Posted April 10, 2020 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

Insulin pumps are becoming one of the most popular and commonly used insulin delivery methods for many diabetes patients. Insulin pumps have provided great ease to diabetes patients, as they work similarly to a real pancreas. 

But can insulin pumps get wet? In this article, we’ll give a clear understanding of all about insulin pumps and their link with water and getting wet.

Here’s the quick takeaway answer for you, then we’ll dive into more details.

Can insulin pumps get wet? Insulin pumps are designed to resist accidental contact with water. However, one cannot bath or swim with an insulin pump unless it’s waterproof. Even waterproof insulin pumps have a specified duration and depth up to which it remains water-resistant. 

When carrying out a daily lifestyle, there are some challenges that insulin pump users will have to face, especially when engaging in water-related activities like bathing and swimming. 

One of the main concerns diabetes patients have is if insulin pumps can get wet, what happens if they get wet, can you shower or swim with an insulin pump, and how waterproof insulin pumps work.

What Happens When Insulin Pumps Get Wet?

Can Insulin Pumps Get Wet

Insulin pumps are designed to be water-resistant. So, they can repel many water splashes and most accidental contact with water. 

Insulin pumps should be able to resist water contact to a certain extent. So, a few splashes of water running to get out of the rain would not necessarily damage the insulin pump. However, unless it is a waterproof insulin pump, the pump may become damaged if it is submerged or an excessive amount of water makes contact with the pump.

Insulin pumps can become damaged when water enters the pump and corrodes parts inside the pump. Over time the internal electronic devices of the insulin pump, including the battery and battery compartment, may become damaged. The pump will start malfunctioning, potentially showing error messages and false readings.

In worse cases where the insulin pump has been submerged into water, the pump may cease to work completely.

What to Do When an Insulin Pump Gets Wet?

In cases where an insulin pump gets wet, and it’s not a waterproof one, there are plenty of ways to recover or stop the pump from further damage. It’s not certain if this process always works every time, but taking these simple steps may help in avoiding the insulin from being irreparably damaged.

So, when an insulin pump becomes wet through accidental situations like rain, spills, or so on, try taking the following measures. 

  1. The first thing to do when an insulin pump gets wet is performing a self-test procedure located in the utility menu. While doing this, pat the outside of the case until dry.
  2. Next, open the reservoir compartment and check the compartment and reservoir for any water. If it’s wet, dry this completely within the first 10 minutes of exposure to the water. Drying this is very important to prevent the parts from corroding.
  3. Dry the reservoir completely – never place a wet reservoir back into your insulin pump.
  4. Never use hot air or even a hairdryer to dry your insulin pump. This may damage your insulin pump’s internal electronics – including the battery and its compartment.
  5. Check the battery in case that is also wet. Let the batteries also dry completely if wet before using it again in the insulin pump.
  6. When everything is dried out, put them back, and run a self-test procedure using the utility menu. 

How Can Waterproof Insulin Pumps Get Wet?

Can Insulin Pumps Get Wet

Waterproof insulin pumps can, of course, get wet. However, specific considerations have to be made when using waterproof insulin pumps. This is because waterproof insulin pumps are designed to be waterproof only to a certain degree. So, some insulin pumps may be “more waterproof” than others. 

The degree of waterproof for insulin pumps is measured using “IP” codes. These codes are used to define the dust and water-resistance of devices.

After the letters “IP,” the first digit specifies the dust protection. If the dust resistance is not specified, the IP will be followed by an “X.” After this, the second digit indicates the water resistance. Some of the most common waterproof insulin pumps and their degree of proofing and the duration they stay waterproof are as follows. 

  • Lifescan Animas Vibe: 3.6m depth for up to 24 hours (IPX-8) 
  • DANA Diabecare R: 3m depth for 24 hours (IPX-8) 
  • Ypsomed MyLife OmniPod: 7.6m depth for up to 1 hour (IPX-8) 
  • Accu-Chek Spirit Combo: 2.4m depth for up to 1 hour (IPX-8)

Sometimes these measurements are stringent, and the pumps may be used at greater depths and for longer durations. The specific measurements just mean that the insulin pump has been tested only up to that depth and duration. However, it should also be said that the depth and duration the pump stays waterproof has only been tested in freshwater.

This means that additives in the water, such as sea salt and soaps, could change these waterproofing depths and durations. 

So, waterproof insulin only can be used for water-related daily activities like swimming, bathing, or showering. However, these activities should be limited only up to the specified depth and duration provided by the manufacturer.

Either way, it makes sense to try and keep your insulin pump as dry as possible at all times. If the pump isn’t a waterproof model and does get wet, then try to ensure you follow the cleaning steps above.

Limitations to Using Waterproof Insulin Pumps

The only restriction to using waterproof insulin pumps (other than the specified depths and duration) is that too much exposure to hot temperatures could spoil the insulin inside the pump. This may make the insulin less effective, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. 

This applies to waterproof insulin pumps and normal water-resistant insulin pumps. Even waterproof insulin pumps should not be used in hot tubs or saunas. 

Note – when taking warm baths or showers, the body absorbs insulin more quickly than usual. This would easily result in potential “Hypoglycemia.”

For this, testing blood sugar levels before and after disconnecting the pump when having a bath or using a hot tub can help monitor blood sugar and prevent high and low blood sugar levels.

Conclusion

We hope this has been useful in understanding what happens when insulin pumps get wet. If you are having problems with your insulin pump, contact the manufacturer to see about correcting the problem or getting a replacement. 

Insulin medications can be expensive. If you’re having trouble affording your medication, then contact Prescription Hope. We work with pharmaceutical manufacturers to help you receive your medication at a set, affordable cost.

Enroll with us to find out if you are eligible to receive your prescription medications for $50 a month for each medication.



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