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Home Enteral Nutrition: What Is It & How Does It Help You

Home Enteral Nutrition: What Is It & How Does It Help You
Shweta Chaubey

Some medical conditions make it difficult to nourish your loved one with conventional methods of consuming nutrients, a.k.a, eating or drinking via mouth. Such conditions render a person unable to chew or swallow food normally. In a situation like this, home enteral nutrition comes into the picture.

What is at-home enteral nutrition?

At-home enteral nutrition is a process of food intake via the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is also known as tube feeding and helps the patient take nutrition via a tube directly to the stomach or small intestine without having to chew or swallow it. Home enteral nutrition can be a daunting task to do if you don’t have the medical know-how. It can take time for the caregiver and the patient to get used to.  But the good news is, it does get easier with time. Here is a guide for you to help you navigate enteral feeding at home!

What supplies do I need for home enteral feeding? 

To administer tube feeding, you will need - 

  • Enteral nutrition formula
  • A cup
  • A tape
  • An empty container
  • A container of water
  • A clean cloth or paper towel
  • A 60-milliliter catheter tip or ENFit syringe
  • Feeding pump (if on continuous tube feeding)
  • A pump-feeding bag
  • IV pole or wall hook
  • Hand sanitizer or soap

Things To Remember While Administering Tube Feeding At Home 

While administering home enteral nutrition to your loved one, consider the following - 

1. How do you store tube-feeding formula?

Store the feeding formula in a cool and dry place, with temperatures between 5-25ºC (41-77ºF). Please keep it away from direct sunlight and freezing conditions. When you open the formula, handle it carefully and keep things clean. Additionally, always check the best before the date, and give the pack or bottle a good shake before opening.

2. How to handle the enteral formula?

Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing the meal and after administering the formula. It can take 4-12 hours to prepare a meal. Avoid putting too much formula in the bag when you're making the meal. Just put enough to give your loved one the nutrition they need. Put the leftover formula in the refrigerator. If you don't put enough formula in the bag and it starts getting empty, don't add more. Instead, replace the whole bag with a new one. Adding fresh formula to the old one could make your loved one sick with food poisoning.

Types of Tube Feeding Procedures

Enteral feeding has three types: bolus, gravity, and pump feeding. The best type for your loved one depends on their health, how well they can handle a liquid diet and their nutritional needs. When starting enteral feeding at home, it might take some time to figure out what works best. If your loved one feels fine after a meal, you can continue following the doctor's plan. But you should try a different method if they have stomach problems or chokes. Always talk to your loved one's medical team before making any changes. They will help you find the best way to feed them properly and comfortably.

What is bolus feeding?

Feeding with the bolus method means using a syringe to give the formula. Pull the formula into the syringe and then push it into the feeding tube with the plunger. Bolus feeding is usually given every 4-6 hours while the person is awake. If someone can eat a regular amount of food at once, they can get bolus feeding.

What is gravity feeding?

The formula is delivered using a feeding bag without a pump in the gravity feeding method. The feeding bag is filled with the formula and flows from the bag into the tube by the force of gravity alone. It can take up to 60 minutes to complete.

What is pump feeding?

A feeding pump is used for patients who cannot tolerate a larger meal at one time. The formula is filled in a feeding bag and pumped at a prescribed dose and rate.

How To Administer Home Enteral Nutrition?

Bolus Tube Feeding Procedure

  • Open the feeding port cap.
  • Flush the feeding tube with 30-60 mL of water.
  • Pull the plunger from the syringe and put the tip in the feeding port.
  • If using extension tubing like Kimberly-Clark MIC-KEY Bolus Extension Set, connect the syringe's needle to the extension tubing.
  • Pour the formula into the syringe.
  • Put the plunger back and push slowly to let gravity drain the enteral formula through the tube.
  • Add the prescribed amount of formula.
  • Wash the feeding tube with the suggested amount of water.
  • Remove the syringe.
  • Close the feeding port and disconnect the extension tubing (if applicable).
  • Wash your hands.
  • Clean all the supplies and air dry them.

Pump Feeding Procedure

First, flush the feeding tube with 30-60 mL of water.

  • Close the clamp on the feeding bag tubing.
  • Fill the feeding bag with the prescribed amount of formula.
  • Hang the feeding bag on the IV pole above the pump. Make sure the bag tubing hangs straight.
  • Insert the feeding bag's tubing into the feeding pump.
  • Open the clamp at the feeding bag tubing.
  • Turn the pump on.
  • After the meal is done, turn off the pump.
  • Rinse the feeding bag with lukewarm water.
  • Then flush the feeding tube with 30-60mL of water.

Gravity Feeding Procedure

  • Flush the feeding tube.
  • Close the clamp on the feeding bag and pour the prescribed dose of liquid food.
  • Close the feeding bag and hang it on the IV pole.
  • Connect the end of the gravity bag to the feeding tube.
  • Unclamp the feeding tube to allow the formula to flow.
  • The flow can be adjusted using a regulator clamp.
  • After feeding, rinse the feeding bag and flush the tube.
  • Replace the feeding bag every 24 hours to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

Frequently Asked Questions About Home Enteral Nutrition

1. How to take medicines through the feeding tube at home?

  • Flush the feeding tube with water using a syringe.
  • Give medicine through the tube. If the medicine is in tablet form, crush them and dissolve it in water before giving it.
  • If using several medicines, flush the tube with water before and after you put each medicine.
  • Some medications may interact with the feeding. Please consult with the doctor about that.

2. How long can you live with a feeding tube in your stomach?

Having a feeding tube in your stomach doesn't mean the end. It is a means to provide your body with the important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to stay healthy. Sometimes, the feeding tube is only needed for a short time, while other times, it may be required for a long time. But no matter how long it's needed, people can still live a long and healthy life with a feeding tube. It's just a way to ensure they stay well-nourished and cared for.

3. What is the feeding rate for NG tube adults?

When adults start using an NG tube for feeding, they typically begin with a weak concentration of nutrients (≤0.5 kcal/mL) and a slow rate of 25 mL per hour. After a few days, the concentration and amount can be increased to meet their calorie and water needs. The maximum tolerable rate is 0.8 kcal/mL at 125 mL per hour, which gives around 2400 calories per day. It helps ensure they get the right amount of nutrition for their body.

4. What are the benefits of home enteral nutrition?

Feeding patients at home with a tube is a helpful way to give them the nutrition they need when they can't eat normally. It ensures they get the right nutrients even if they can't eat regular food.

5. What is the difference between enteral and parenteral feeding?

Enteral and parenteral feeding are two different ways to give nutrition to people who can't eat normally. Enteral feeding uses a tube to send liquid food through the stomach or small intestine, while parenteral feeding sends it directly into the veins. Enteral feeding is less invasive and can be the main source of nutrition for patients. Parenteral feeding is used when someone can't digest food properly, and it has more risks. Both methods help prevent malnourishment and provide the nutrients needed for healing and health.

6. When to seek professional help?

Enteral feeding may be difficult to navigate. Hence, it is best to be in constant touch with your doctor or nurse and make sure to follow their instructions while administering enteral nutrition. 

Where can I buy supplies for at-home enteral nutrition?

HPFY has been your health and wellness partner since 2002. We carry a wide range of medical supplies including, enteral feeding supplies for at-home enteral nutrition. Explore our catalog today and find the products that suit your needs the best.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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