Safely Swimming For Hemodialysis And Peritoneal Dialysis Patients



A Chronic Kidney Disease patient wrote to and said, "I love swimming. I have used it as a form of exercising for years. However, now that I am on dialysis, I do not believe that I can safely swim without getting an infection or worse. Is this true? Any tips?"

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This is an interesting question because swimming is such a good exercise and a great way to spend quality time with family and friends - splashing around the pool, lake, river, beach, etc. Also, the coolness of the water keeps one refreshed the whole day. Yet Dialysis patients are rightfully concerned about picking up infections from the body of water in which they choose to swim. Therefore, try the following tips to enjoy your swim session as safely as possible:

  • Heavily Chlorinated Water: has found that many patients who are interested in swimming and have their own pools prefer it heavily chlorinated. 
  • Avoid Lakes And Polluted Areas Of The Ocean:  Patients must be careful to avoid lakes or polluted areas of the ocean, as they increase the danger of contracting an infection. To determine contamination levels of certain beaches, most Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients can typically do a Google Search for their desired beach using the following key terms: "pollution warning + desired beach name." Usually, there is a County Agency that monitors ocean pollution levels and beach closures. A quick rule of thumb, any beach that had recent closures due to sewage or pollution or are said to have "Bacteria levels exceeding state health standards," should be considered bad choices. 
  • How About Ponds And Rivers?: Patients on Dialysis are encouraged to avoid bodies of water that are not chlorinated such as ponds and rivers, which have a greater chance of hosting bacteria that can infect a Dialysis Access site. When going for a swim, the clean ocean or a heavily chlorinated pool are the best options for most patients.
  • Protect Your Access: Dialysis patients must remember to cover their Dialysis Access (wether Peritoneal or Hemodialysis) with a protective dressing when swimming. Hemodialysis patients can ask their Dialysis Nurses which protective dressings hold up best in water. For patients on Peritoneal Dialysis, your Healthcare Team will show you how to properly clamp your catheter shut and cover it so you limit the concern of infection while swimming. The Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter should be immobilized to avoid trauma to or tension on the catheter while swimming. 
  • Clean Up After The Swim: After swimming, Chronic Kidney Disease patients should change the dressing immediately so that germs do not fester - leading to increased risk of infection. Remember that once you remove the dressing then wash your exit site and/or safely shower after swimming.

Fundamentally, swimming while on Dialysis is a decision that should only be made after consultation with your Healthcare Team; if for no other reason, they can be on the lookout for early detection of infection. Your Nurse and Nephrologist will also provide the most effective Dialysis Site prophylactics (guarding against or preventing the spread or occurrence of disease or infection). Also, be sure to get your Dialysis Arm Sleeve (click here) to avoid infections outside of the water.

Recommended Reading: 721 Hospitals Failed Infection Evaluation Putting Chronic Kidney Disease-Dialysis Patients At Risk

Have you ever gone swimming as a Dialysis patient? What are some of the strategies that you use to avoid Dialysis Access infections? Share your answers with the 70,000 + Friends who have liked on Facebook (click here). While you are there, like the Facebook Page and visit where over (250,000 monthly viewers) regularly come for the latest tailored breaking news and information that teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives.  One of our regular visitors, Robert M. Caldwell stopped by to say, "Stay strong family."  We heard Robert and would love to hear from you as well.

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