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.
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!
To administer tube feeding, you will need -
While administering home enteral nutrition to your loved one, consider the following -
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
First, flush the feeding tube with 30-60 mL of water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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