Your body needs nutrition to stay strong and help you live a healthy life. If you're unable to eat, or if you have an illness that makes it hard to swallow food, you may need a feeding tube. The tube is placed in the stomach and is used to give food, liquids, and medicines.
Depending on why you need a feeding tube, you may have it for several weeks or months or longer.
When you first get a feeding tube, your biggest challenge may be your new relationship with food. For many people, eating and savouring food is one of the most pleasing parts of daily life. You may grieve the loss of the daily habit of eating and the social aspects of sharing food with others.
If you've struggled to get enough nutrition—if it's been hard to eat or swallow—having a feeding tube can help you regain your health and strength. And understanding how a feeding tube works is a first step toward dealing with changes that come with having the tube. It can also help you avoid common problems that can occur.
After surgery to insert a feeding tube, you'll have a 15 to 30 centimetre tube coming out of your belly. The tube is about the same width as a pen.
There are different ways the tube can be used for feeding. Your doctor will help you decide which is best for you and how often feedings should occur.
It's important that the food you use for tube feeding have the right blend of nutrients for you. And the food needs to be the correct thickness so the tube doesn't clog. For most people, a milk shake-type of formula works best for tube feeding. Your doctor or dietitian will help you find the right formula to use.
Each time you use the tube for feeding:
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Current as of: March 29, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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