One of the most common questions we receive on our Facebook page is whether or not it is okay to swim with a feeding tube. Well, we’re here to set the record straight once and for all.
The good news is that yes, in general, it is acceptable to swim with a feeding tube. That said, there are a few precautions you’ll want to take before diving in:
- The top necessity for safe swimming is a healed and healthy stoma. For that reason, you’ll want to discuss whether or not it is okay for you with your doctor. He or she may have special instructions for you to follow.
- Perform stoma site care immediately after swimming. Change any dressings and make sure the site is clean and dry.
- Not all water sources are safe for tube users, so get to know your pools and oceans. In general, these two water sources are best for those with feeding tubes. On the contrary, ponds, lakes and hot tubs aren’t great choices. Pond and lake water is generally stagnant and the warm water in hot tubs is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Speaking of water sources, how do you know which ones are safe for you and your loved ones? Here are some additional tips…
Pools: Pick private pools that are well monitored and maintained. They should not be used by pets/animals. For public pools, ask the manager to provide you with a bacteria count before getting in.
Beaches: While oceans are typically fine for tube-users, these bodies of water are still at risk for pollution. Ideally, you should be able to obtain this information from the local beach health monitoring official. Ask which beaches are monitored, how often they are checked and what they are tested for. When the results are provided, don’t be afraid to ask for help in understanding them. If your beach is not monitored, avoid swimming after heavy rain and near storm drains. Keep your eyes peeled for trash and other pollution in the water. You can also check out the CDC’s Health Swimming webpage for ocean reports.
Lakes, ponds and rivers: As mentioned above, these bodies of water are typically associated with greater risk for pollution and, therefore, water related illnesses. They are not ideal for feeding tube users. Safety information is harder to come by for these bodies of water, too, but you can start by searching on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
Lastly, the CDC offers the following steps for healthy swimming and protecting against recreational water illnesses on their CDC Healthy Swimming.