What is tube feeding
A medical device used to provide nutrition to your loved one who cannot get nutrition by mouth. That is unable to swallow safely, or need nutritional supplementation.
Tube feeding becomes necessary when our loved ones suffer from a various disease. That prevented them from swallowing. It allows our loved ones to get their daily need of nutrients and medications through the tube. In some cases, our loved one may need partial tube feeding. But in severe cases, tube feeding would be the only option.
Tube feeding at home brings along a new set of challenges and responsibilities. It is pretty natural and obvious to have apprehensions the same. Ask your health care provider in case of any doubts, so that you can do justice to your role as a caregiver.
Facts about tube feeding
Tube feeding is not always a pleasant experience for our loved one. We as caregivers should acknowledge this fact. And work towards making it an easy process for our loved ones. Here are certain facts that we as family caregivers and our loved ones should be aware of.
Maintaining tube feed hygiene is an important part to keep our loved one healthy. wash and clean the tube several times a day. This is necessary to wash off all the remnants of feed in the tube. Which if not cleaned off properly, it can become a potential source of infection for our loved ones.
Tube feeding is not a painful process in itself. But, having the tube inside your body can really become painful. Imagine having a foreign body inside our body round the clock. It can become irritating and painful in the long run. In the process, granulated tissues gradually get deposited around the tube. This can cause intense pain during movement of the abdominal muscles. These granulated tissues cannot be easily removed. And can make matters difficult during the tube feeding process.
What does tube feeding mean? In medical terms, tube feeding means enteral feeding.
Our loved one with a tube inserted can take a bath regularly. However, caregivers should be careful while bathing them. Because if water gets inside the stomach, it can lead to infections.
Ways to perfect your tube feeds
Once your loved one is back home and appears to be more adjusted with their feeding tube. You will want to offer them more flexibility with their feeds. Here are various ways to optimize tube feeds.
This type of feed is given slowly and gradually through the pump. Continuous feed requires longer time as compared to the other types. There are 2 ways in which you can have continuous feeding. The first is a backpack with feed which you can have when you go out and carry your normal activities. Another way is to have an overnight feed. Which can be either taken partially or have the entire feed. So that you can gain more flexibility during the day hours.
In this type of feeding, you can give small feeds at intervals which usually takes lesser time. This helps you to take your meals even when you are outside. And also gives you the flexibility to plan your meals with your family members.
This is the combination of continuous as well as bolus feeding. This is by far a much better method. As it helps meet the demands of your loved ones and also fits well in their daily schedule.
Feeding tube does not mean the end of the world
Many of us may think that having a feeding tube means “the end of the world”. However, this is not true. A feeding tube will allow you to function in a normal way. In spite of certain organ disability, you are living with. This will affect all facets of your life. But it will still allow you to function and carry out your daily activities in a normal way. Let’s learn the art of living a normal life with a feeding tube.
Change your sleeping position. You will have to change your favorite sleeping position. For this, we need to teach our loved ones, to either sleep on their back or on the side.
Ask for help for daily activities. Normal activities can get difficult. The tube can actually come in the way of normal activities. We can help our loved one with their daily routine until they slowly get to adjust with the tube.
Traveling will be a bit different. Carry an extra feeding bag for traveling. If you want to travel by air, you must then get a consent from the doctor.
Bathing and Pools can be a challenge. Take special precautions while bathing. And avoid all public pools to cut the risk of infection of any kind.
Call your health care provider
Setting up a home tube feeding is not an easy task. It will bring along several challenges on the part of the family caregiver. Even more so when our loved ones show signs of discomfort or illness. Many times, there may be a problem with the tube itself. As it may get clogged due to certain formula feed, or the tube may appear to get bent. In such cases, trying to fix the problem at home is a good idea. But in more severe cases you need to call your healthcare provider.
Our loved ones with tube feeding may show signs of infection or food intolerance. As caregivers, we need to be aware of these signs. There are many changes that may show an infection. And or any kind of food intolerance includes the following.
The skin around the area of the tube has turned red in color and is warm to touch.
There is more drainage than usual and has a foul smell.
There is a change in the color of drainage and is coffee colored.
If there is a fever accompanied by vomiting and or nausea.
Sudden weight loss or rapid weight gain.
Your loved one may get constipated or may experience diarrhea.
Stomach pain or gets bloated and feels tight.