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Tube Feeding


Tube feeding provides your body with nutrients when you are not able to eat or cannot absorb nutrition from the food you eat. Tube feeding contains water, protein, sugar, fats, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. You may need tube feeding for several days or weeks. Tube feeding can be given through a tube placed in your nose or mouth and into your stomach. Tube feeding can also be given through a percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy (PEG) tube placed directly into your stomach through your abdomen. Ask for more information on a PEG tube.


Risks of EN:

  • Nasal or throat discomfort or dry mouth
  • Nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping
  • Gastric reflux, which can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia (pneumonia caused by presence of liquid or food in your lungs)
  • Blocked or misplaced feeding tube, which can cause aspiration pneumonia
  • Infection at the site of the PEG tube

After you leave the hospital:

If you need tube feeding after you leave the hospital, a healthcare provider will teach you or someone close to you how to give tube feeding formula at home. You will learn how to use the equipment and care for your tube. If you have a PEG tube, you will learn how to protect the skin at the insertion site and change the dressing. Your healthcare provider will make sure the correct supplies are delivered to your home. Caregivers will visit you regularly to monitor your health while you are getting tube feeding.

Self-care at home with EN:

  • Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed. You will need regular blood and urine tests to check for infection or other problems.
  • Sit up during feeding to avoid reflux and aspiration (movement of tube feeding into your lungs). Remain sitting for 1 hour after your feeding is complete.
  • Keep track of how much tube feeding you take in and how much you urinate. Write down any changes in bowel movements. Weigh yourself as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Care for your feeding tube as directed. Flush your tube with warm water before and after feedings to prevent blockages.
  • If you have a PEG tube, clean the skin around the insertion site as directed by your healthcare provider. Check your skin for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth, or drainage.
  • Continue regular mouth care. Use mouthwash 3 to 4 times a day to keep your mouth moist and prevent infection.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have discomfort or pain around your PEG tube site.
  • You have nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal bloating or discomfort.
  • You weigh less than your healthcare provider says you should.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You start coughing or vomiting during or after a feeding.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • The skin around the PEG tube site is red, swollen, tender, or warm.
  • You have increased pain during feeding or when your PEG tube is flushed.
  • Blood or tube feeding fluid leaks from the PEG tube site.
  • Your PEG tube comes out.

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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.