Feeding Tubes

Feeding Tubes

Feeding Tubes

Enteral feeding is the process of delivery of nutritional food complete with carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, water, fat and vitamins. Enteral feeding is achieved via devices known as feeding tubes which deliver the food through different parts of the body.

How does a feeding tube work?

A feeding tube is inserted into the stomach through the nasal passage (nasoenteric feeding) or the abdomen (enterostomy feeding) to supply nutritional food to patients who find it difficult to eat normally. Feeding tubes are used for both adults as wells as children.

When are feeding tubes used?

If you cannot eat in the usual way, you may not get enough nutrition for good health. For example, you may need tube feeding if:

  • You cannot swallow safely because you have a disease or injury that affects your mouth or throat, such as cancer or stroke

  • You are receiving medical treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or have an illness that temporarily makes it hard for you to eat enough food

What kind of food is delivered through the feeding tube?

A dietitian calculates the amounts of vitamins, minerals, fluids, and calories you need each day. Then he or she will choose the right formula to satiate those needs. The formula can be bought at a storeor can be made at home.
Formulas may be delivered in two ways:

  • Bolus feedings are large doses given several times a day just like eating a meal. It can be pushed through the tube by a pumpor a syringe may be used.

  • Continuous feedings deliver small amounts of formula through the tube over a period of several hours or continuously all the time.

What are thedifferent types of Feeding Tubes?

There are a number of feeding tubes depending on their usage and the place they are used at:

  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tubes

    They are surgically placed from the skin directly through the abdomen and into the stomach

  • Nasogastric tubes

    They are placed through the nose andinto the stomach

  • Nasoduodenal tubes

    They are placed through the nose to the duodenum (first part of the intestines)

  • Nasojejunal tubes

    They are placed through the nose to the jejunum (second part of the small intestines)

  • Jejunostomy tubes

    They are placed through the skin, directly into the abdomen and till the jejunum (second portion of the small intestines)

  • Gastrojejunal tubes

    They are surgically placed through thestomach to the jejunum (second part of the small intestines) bypassing the duodenum (first part of the intestines)

How are the feeding tubes inserted into the required area?

As the tubes are soft and flexible they can be placed in several ways:

  • Nasogastric tubes:

    The tube will be gently inserted through the nose or the mouth up till the stomach or past the stomach and until the small intestine by trained caregivers. Nasogastric tubes are used when the required feeding period is brief (for a few days or a week).

    Feeding Tubes - Nasogastric Tubes

  • Gastrostomy tubes:

    Firstly an anesthetic is given to numb the region of placement. Then the tube is placed into the belly through a thin incision. It is kept in place using a balloon or a rubber cap. Gastrostomy tubes are more comfortable than their counterparts and are hence used when the feeding process is to be conducted for a long period of time.

    Feeding Tubes - Gastrostomy Tubes

How does one cope with using feeding tubes?

Although tube feeding can save lives, it majorly alters one’s life too. A person using a feeding tube has to adapt to a new lifestyle and the kind of social life one lives daily also changes drastically. The profession a person follows, or their hobbies and interests also have to be arranged and accommodated around tube feeding.

But one important fact that a person using tube feeding has to know that there are hundreds of other people just like them that have adapted and changed their lives accordingly. There are a number of social groups and organizations where one can go and discuss their lives with people going through the same problems.

Feeding tubes are an important invention for people that have been suffering from problems while eating normally since ages. Today modern technology has helped us in created tubes that lessen the discomfort of the user and enhance their way of life even while suffering from a disorder or a disease.


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