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Feeding Tube Do’s and Don’ts

What You Need To Know to Keep Your Feeding Tube Working Properly

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Updated June 19, 2014

If you’re one of the many people with cystic fibrosis who has a G-tube, J-tube, or GJ-tube, there are a few things you need to know to avoid setbacks and keep things running smoothly.

Do:

Keep the insertion site clean and dry: Clean the area around the tube with plain soap and water at least once a day, more often if there is any drainage or formula oozing onto the skin. After cleaning, dry the area with a soft, clean cloth to prevent skin irritation from moisture.

Check the site everyday for signs of infection: Report any unexplained fever, pain, swelling, redness, pus or other drainage from your feeding tube site to your doctor immediately.

Flush the tube: It is important to flush the tube with water after each feeding to make sure it doesn’t get clogged.

Check the water in the balloon: At least once a week, test the balloon to make sure it still has enough water to keep the tube in place.

Act quickly if the tube comes out: Cover the insertion site with a clean, dry cloth and get to your doctor or emergency room right away. Without a tube to keep it open, the hole will close within a few hours. If this happens, you will need to have surgery again to replace the tube.

Don’t:

Put table foods in the tube: Feeding tubes are not designed for table foods, even if they’re pureed. Putting table food in a feeding tube can cause the tube to become clogged.

Force anything through the tube: If the tube becomes clogged, try attaching a syringe with warm water and gently pull back and push on the plunger repeatedly to see if you can dislodge the clog. If that doesn’t work, you can try the same technique using a solution of warm water and the contents of an enzyme capsule.

Give bolus feedings through a J-tube or GJ-tube: Both of these tubes bypass the stomach and deliver food directly to the small intestine, which cannot tolerate large quantities of food at one time. Feedings through J-tubes and GJ-tubes must be given slowly over time.

Source:

Davis, S and O'Brien, B. “G-tube Site Care: A Practical Guide”. RN; Feb99, Vol. 62 Issue 2, p52-56.

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