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How do you use a feeding tube?

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Quick Answer

To use a feeding tube, insert the small tip of a food container into the feeding tube and slowly open the clamp on the feeding line, releasing food through a gastronomy tube at a regulated speed. When feeding is complete, fill the feeding tube with fluids, supplying the prescribed amount of liquid and flushing the line, states UPMC, an affiliate of the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.

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Full Answer

Tube feeding supplies a patient with adequate nutrients and prevents dehydration, according to UPMC. Patients and their families leaving hospital care learn how to administer food, drink and medication and to maintain the feeding tube at home. They also learn how to troubleshoot issues that may arise from using the feeding tube. The necessary equipment for tube feeding includes a 60 cc syringe, liquid food and an intravenous pole or wall hook to hang the food supply while feeding. Additionally, the patient needs a clean food container and measuring cup.

Before feeding, make sure hands are clean, UPMC recommends. Then, check the placement of the tube by inserting the 60 cc syringe into the tube and pulling back on the plunger. Gastric acid from the stomach should be present in the tube, indicating the tube is still in the stomach. Use caution and don't remove too much stomach contents. If too much fluid is removed, rinse the tube after injecting the stomach content back through the tube. Wait a few hours before attempting the feeding again.

Clean the food container after each use, using dishwashing liquid and water, advises UPMC. Rinse the container thoroughly with water. Contact a nurse or doctor if persistent issues arise from the feeding process or if no stomach contents show in the feeding tube prior to feeding.

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