Swimming with a G-tube: tips from a Pediatric Surgeon

Dr. Julie Sanchez, Pediatric Surgeon and co-founder of Spoonie Threads 

Summer is a great time to get out and explore! Just make sure you practice swim safety measures. Each year, I see drownings and near drownings. A child can drown in as little as 25 seconds. Every child is at risk of drowning. especially toddlers, who are at the highest risks. Make sure there is always an adult supervising a child when swimming. Place safety barriers such as covers or fences with locks around house pools so a child can’t access the pool unsupervised. Learning how to swim can be a great activity to do together. Encourage the use of Life-vests on a boat. Last, apply and re-apply sunblock and stay hydrated. Children should stay out of hot tubs. They can easily overheat or get burned.  

Swimming or wadding with a g-tube or j-tube button or mickey is just fine if you follow this guidance. For a new tract you should not go swimming until it is cleared by your surgeon. This is usually until the tract is well formed or 6 weeks.

If there is granulation tissue dry it off thoroughly and apply zinc oxide over and around it with a Q-tip. That helps create a barrier. There is no need for band aids or other artificial barriers to be applied if the skin is intact. Remember, open cuts or sores are what puts your child at risk for an infection, especially if he or she is in river or ocean water.  

When you are done swimming rinse well and wash to remove all chlorine, salt water or sand. Use soap and water like Johnson & Johnson antibacterial soap or Dial and pat dry. Seek medical attention, if the site gets red or starts draining. It could be signs of an early infection.  

Have a fantastic summer and stay safe!  

 

More Reading 

CDC Healthy Swimming Page 

EPA Beaches  

Swimming and your feeding tube