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How to Use and Care for your Peg Tube
A percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube
is a soft, plastic feeding tube that goes into your stomach. Healthcare providers will teach you how to put liquid food and certain medicines through the tube. You will also be taught how to care for the PEG tube and the skin where the tube enters your body.
Call your doctor or gastroenterologist if:
- You start coughing or vomiting during or after a feeding.
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- Blood or tube feeding fluid leaks from the PEG tube site.
- Your PEG tube is shorter than it was when it was put in.
- Your PEG tube comes out.
- Your mouth feels dry, your heart feels like it is beating too fast, or you feel weak.
- You have nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal bloating or discomfort.
- You have stomach pain after each feeding or when you move around.
- You have discomfort or pain around your PEG tube site.
- The skin around your PEG tube is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You weigh less than your healthcare provider says you should.
- Your PEG tube is longer than it was when it was put in.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
How to use a PEG tube for feedings:
Your healthcare provider will tell you when and how often to use your PEG tube for feedings. A bolus feeding means nutrition is given over a short period of time. An intermittent feeding is scheduled for certain times throughout the day. Continuous feedings run all the time. The following are types of PEG tube systems:
- A feeding syringe helps liquid food to flow steadily into the PEG tube. The syringe is connected to the end of the PEG tube. You will pour the liquid into the syringe and hold it up high. The syringe plunger may be used to gently push the last of the liquid through the PEG tube.
- A gravity drip bag allows liquid food to drip more slowly into the PEG tube. The tubing from the gravity drip bag is connected to the end of the PEG tube. You will pour the liquid into the bag. The bag hangs on a medical pole or similar device. You can adjust the flow rate on the tubing according to your healthcare provider's instructions.
- An electric feeding pump controls the flow of the liquid food into your PEG tube. Your healthcare provider will teach you how to set up and use the pump.
How to care for your PEG tube:
- Always wash your hands before and after each use. This helps prevent infections. Use soap and water to wash your hands.
- Always flush your PEG tube before and after each use. This helps prevent blockage from formula or medicine. Use at least 30 milliliters (mL) of water to flush the tube. Follow directions for flushing your PEG tube.
- If your PEG tube becomes clogged, try to unclog it as soon as you can. Flush your PEG tube with a 60 mL syringe filled with warm water. Never use a wire to unclog the tube. A wire can poke a hole in the tube. Your healthcare provider may have you use a medicine or a plastic brush to help unclog your tube.
- Check the PEG tube daily:
- Check the length of the tube from the end to where it goes into your body. If it gets longer, it may be at risk for coming out. If it gets shorter, let your healthcare provider know right away.
- Check the bumper. The bumper is a piece that goes around the tube, next to your skin. It should be snug against your skin. Tell your healthcare provider if the bumper seems too tight or too loose.
- Use an alcohol pad to clean the end of your PEG tube. Clean before you connect tubing or a syringe to your PEG tube and after you remove it. Do not let the end of the PEG tube touch anything.
How to care for the skin around your PEG tube:
- Do not remove the stitches or medical tape. Stitches or medical tape hold your PEG tube in place when you first get it. Your healthcare provider will take them off once the skin around your tube heals. Leave clean bandages over the tube area for the first 24 hours after the tube is put in. You may not need to use bandages after 24 hours if the skin around the tube looks dry. Ask when you can shower or bathe.
- Routine skin care:
- Clean the skin around your tube 1 to 2 times each day. Ask your healthcare provider what you should use to clean your skin. Check for redness, swelling, or pus in the area where the tube goes into your body. Check for fluid draining from your stoma (the hole where the tube was put in).
- Gently turn your tube daily after your stitches come out. This may decrease pressure on your skin under the bumper. It may also help prevent an infection.
- Keep the skin around your PEG tube dry. This will help prevent skin irritation and infection.
- Use topical medicines as directed. You may need to put antibiotic cream on the skin around your tube after you are done cleaning it.
Other tips to know about a PEG tube:
- Keep a record of liquids you have each day. You may also need to keep a record of how much you urinate and how many times you have a bowel movement each day. Bring this record to your follow-up visits.
- Check your weight as directed. Keep a record of your weights and bring it to your follow-up visits. Your healthcare provider may need to change your feedings if your weight changes too quickly.
- Take your medicines as directed. Learn which of your medicines can be crushed, mixed with water, and given through the PEG tube. Certain medicines should not be crushed or may clog the PEG tube.
- Go to all follow-up appointments. You may need to have blood tests and other tests when you see your healthcare provider.
Follow up with your doctor or gastroenterologist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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