Swimming With Lines and Tubes

Is it safe to swim in a pool or a natural body of water like a lake with lines and G-tubes? The answer is a little bit complicated.

Despite the growing number of people with central venous catheters (CVCs) and EN feeding tubes, the risk of infection after swimming has not been well-studied, according to the Oley Foundation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 14,000 cases of water-associated infectious outbreaks in the general population over a two-year period, but there is little breakdown of how many of those people had EN tubes or CVCs. Most of the outbreaks – nearly 87 percent – occurred in treated water, such as swimming pools.

If someone with lines and/or G-tubes does swim, it’s important to check contamination levels in the water, with a specific eye toward recent rain, runoffs from lakes and rivers, and bacteria, or, where applicable, chlorination levels. Make sure friends or toddlers who aren’t toilet-trained stay out of the water while the patient swims.

When and if the patient swims, protect the site of their CVC or EN tube and remember to change all dressings immediately after swimming. There are latex-free accessories to cover PICC lines, stomas and dressings but, remember, these accessories are not approved by the FDA for swimming use.

For further information, go to https://oley.org/page/Swimming_TeamEffort.

*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.