How to Use and Care for your Peg Tube
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 3, 2023.
What do I need to know about a PEG tube?
A 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.
How do I 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 do I care for my PEG tube?
- Always wash your hands before you care for the area around your PEG tube. Use soap and water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or a paper towel. Anyone caring for your PEG tube should wash his or her hands first.
- 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 do I care for the skin around my PEG tube?
- Clean the skin around your tube 1 to 2 times each day. Ask your 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.
What else do I need 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.
When should I seek immediate care?
- 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 comes out.
- Your mouth feels dry, your heart feels like it is beating too fast, or you feel weak.
When should I call my doctor?
- You have a fever.
- Your PEG tube is shorter or longer than it was when it was put in.
- 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.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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