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Tube Feeding at Home – A Guide for Families and Caregivers


Tube feeding provides nutrients and calories to individuals who cannot eat enough or experience difficulty with digestion, also known as enteral nutrition.

Care for an NG tube feed at home to avoid complications like aspiration pneumonia or infections is essential.

Getting Started

Enteral nutrition (Tube Feeding or Tube Nutrition), also called tube feeding, can provide essential nutritional needs when food alone cannot. This process involves inserting a tube directly into the stomach or small intestine and administering liquid formula directly into your system. Tube Feeding can be used both short-term or long-term to meet various health requirements – speak to a clinical dietitian-nutritionist who will suggest which tube, feeding method, and amount of fluid best fit your situation.

There is a range of tube-feeding equipment and supplies to consider when selecting a suitable one for yourself or a loved one, with different options offering greater convenience than others. When making this selection, be mindful of their comfort level and your abilities when making this critical decision.

If you are using an NG tube to feed someone in the home, they must sit up or have their head elevated during feedings to prevent aspiration, which could result in pneumonia. This is especially crucial if multiple feedings per day are administered.

Some individuals with nasogastric tubes must flush them daily by gently pushing water through. Please consult your healthcare provider on how often to wash.

Other individuals may need to use catheter syringes that don’t contain needles but contain a hole and plunger for dispensing formula into a tube. These devices are bolus tubes and may be easier to use than the traditional nasogastric tube with needles. Be sure to clean your hands well when handling formula preparation or administration!

Getting the Right Equipment

Before you can begin tube feeding at home, it is necessary to obtain the appropriate equipment. This may include a nasogastric tube (which goes directly into your stomach) or a jejunostomy tube that travels into the small intestine; you may also require a pump that allows continuous or scheduled formula delivery throughout the day.

Your doctor will teach you how to properly use and care for a feeding tube, including how and what steps to take if something seems amiss with it or its surrounding environment. They may provide instructions about what signs may indicate a problem, such as:

Ensure the individual receiving tube feeding sits up or stands during each feed to prevent aspiration pneumonia, where food enters the lungs instead of the stomach. Furthermore, check frequently for signs of nausea and vomiting during each meal.

Cleaning around your tube daily with soap and water or alcohol swabs is recommended, as is washing your hands after handling both it and food. Also, consider using a lubricant on its end so it glides more easily in and out of the nose.

When your formula and supplies run low, reorder them immediately to keep at least ten days’ supply. If your income is limited, consult with your physician or home care agency about sourcing low-cost formula and equipment suppliers; they could refer you directly.

Preparing the Food

Your doctor may suggest tube feeding (enteral nutrition) if you are not eating enough to meet your nutritional needs. A liquid formula delivered through a tube has protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals explicitly tailored for you by your healthcare team. This service is often provided in the hospital; however, home enteral nutrition (HEN) may also be an option.

Healthcare teams will show you how to prepare and store tube feeds safely. In addition, they will discuss any daily nutrition or hydration goals that need to be achieved and tell you when flushing is required – similar to pushing water through it – plus storage methods for a tube-feeding formula.

To use tube feedings yourself, fill a syringe with water or medication and gently push it into your tube. Your doctor can advise storing and transporting it at room temperature.

f your child requires tube feedings at home, reading My Belly Has Two Buttons can help your family learn to manage tube feedings more successfully. In addition, visiting families-together meals with other tube-fed children may allow your child to associate pleasant memories with eating and lessen feelings of isolation caused by his/her tube.

Keeping the Area Clean

Cleaning the site where a tube insertion tube (the stoma) was placed (known as the stoma ) regularly is essential in avoiding skin irritation and infection, so the area must be washed several times daily with plain soap and water and gently dried off after each washing session. A light coating of barrier powder or ointment may be beneficial in keeping skin moisture levels under control; any change in size, redness, swelling, pain, warmth, or drainage symptoms of infection must be immediately reported to their doctors.

Limiting pressure and movement at the tube insertion site, particularly those placed through the nose (nasogastric or nasojejunal), will help decrease irritation and increase comfort. Tubing should be taped securely to prevent it from loosening and pulling out of its location in a stoma site. All dressings and tape approved by the care team should be used on skin areas surrounding stomas to keep them free of irritations or infections.

Some individuals who receive tube feeding at home may require regular checks from a doctor to maintain optimal tube functioning. A physician will clean out and change any needed dressing on the stoma at each visit and provide other necessary medical attention.

Feeding through a tube doesn’t need to limit your loved one’s activities, but discussing the most efficient ways of managing exercise and nutrition with their physician is wise. Establishing healthy habits such as getting enough restful sleep and eating healthily are paramount; hot tubs or swimming pools that haven’t been adequately maintained may contain microorganisms that cause infections; in addition, any sudden weight loss or muscle atrophy should be reported immediately to a speech-language pathologist or physician for advice.

Taking Care of Yourself

Feeding tubes provide essential support for people who cannot swallow or are recovering from illness, yet feeding tubes at home can be challenging for caregivers. Taking good care of yourself and seeking assistance from other family members and friends when managing line feeding at home is necessary.

Ensure you get enough sleep and nutritious food, and pay attention to what works for your health. Take care not to neglect yourself and dedicate some time each week to doing something you enjoy; additionally, maintain strong social ties. Remember that tube feeding may become isolated over time, so find new ways to socialize outside the house.

When using a tube feeding device, follow the instructions of both your physician and nurse carefully. This includes washing your hands before and after touching the tube. Flushing out the device regularly is vital to avoid clogs.

If you are using an NG tube, ensure the tape on the nose is regularly changed for best results and that any loose pieces don’t come off ultimately. Furthermore, periodically monitor the pH of stomach fluids contained within a nasogastric tube to detect problems related to tube placement and infection; an ideal pH reading of 5.5 or lower would indicate this is occurring.

While tube feeding can be frustrating, it allows your loved one to live independently at home. Follow the advice of your doctors and nurses and seek assistance if needed, with proper support and knowledge available at Truworth Care for help if any difficulties arise while tube feeding at home.