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Expert Q&A

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Can I go white-water rafting if I have an insulin pump?

Asked by Sharon York, Summit Hill, Pennsylvania

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Can someone who is a diabetic and on the insulin pump go white-water rafting?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. For readers who may not be familiar with an insulin pump, this programmable device consists of a pump about the size of a cell phone or pager. The pump holds insulin and delivers it through tubing to a catheter (a needle made of thin plastic or metal) that is typically inserted into the skin of the abdomen. Having an indwelling, or implanted, catheter avoids the need for repeated injections, although the catheter does need to be changed and moved to a different spot on the skin periodically. Insulin pumps may also provide better control of one's blood sugar.

Although some pumps are waterproof, many are simply water-resistant but can be disconnected for short periods while swimming or bathing. When the pump is disconnected for longer periods, insulin can be given by individual injections if needed. For activities lasting several hours, such as white-water rafting, there are waterproof cases that protect the pump while allowing the user to continue to program it through a clear plastic window.

For more information or recommendations, I would suggest consulting with the physician who cares for the person's diabetes.

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