Enteral Feeding
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What is Enteral Feeding?

Enteral feeding, or tube feeding, is a way to deliver nutrients through a tube if you cannot take food or drink through your mouth. In some cases, you may only need tube feeding for a short period of time during your hospital stay. In other cases, you may need to go home with the tube in place and continue to receive nutrition this way. It may be temporary or permanent.

Depending on your condition, you may have a tube that leads from the:

  • Nose to the stomach (nasogastric)
  • Abdominal wall to the stomach ( gastrostomy )
  • Abdominal wall to the intestines ( enterostomy )

Gastrostomy Tube

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Tube feeding provides you with proper nutrition when a condition makes it difficult, unsafe, or impossible to take food in through your mouth. Fluids and medicines can also be given through the tube.

Possible Complications

Possible complications of tube feeding include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal cramping or bloating
  • Breakdown of the skin surrounding the feeding tube
  • Irritated or infected stoma (the opening made in the abdomen)
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Higher than normal phosphate levels in the blood
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Inhaling the liquid formula into the lungs (aspiration)
  • Clogged or dislodged feeding tube

If you have gastroesophageal reflux , you may be at increased risk for vomiting or aspirating.

Call Your Doctor

If you have tube feeding at home, you will be instructed to call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Clogged tube
  • Dislodged tube (most common during the first two weeks)
  • Choking or difficulty...
 
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