Prevention & Treatment

Tube Feeding at Home: Dispelling 5 Common Misconceptions

Whether you are a patient or know someone with a new feeding tube, you’re bound to have some questions. You’re not alone in this respect, and we know the answers will ease your mind.

In this article, we’ll discuss the answers to five of the most commonly asked questions and remove doubts concerning tube feeding at home.

Q.1. Do feeding tubes come in only one type?

A.1. No: feeding tubes are of several kinds. Each type serves a specific purpose. For instance, one variant provides formula directly to the stomach, whereas the other can bypass the pyloric sphincter to infuse it into the small intestine. Another feeding tube design consists of two ends, one end reaching the stomach and the other end going in the small intestine.

These are named according to their method of placement and the location of the end. So, the patient may require NGT, PEG, TPN, or PEJ feeding at home depending on the type of tube they currently have inserted in their body. For example, a nasogastric tube is placed through the patient’s nose and ends in the stomach (“naso” = nose, “gastro” = stomach).

If the patient has had their feeding tube placed and positioned endoscopically in the stomach, they will require a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy or PEG feeding at home.

Q.2. Will a patient with a feeding tube ever be capable of eating “real” food?

A.2. Patients may have feeding tubes for any reason which may or may not allow them to eat like regular people when they like. To know more, patients will have to consult their doctor(s) to know if or when they can swallow food.

In many cases, even if the patient needs tube feeding at home, they can still eat by mouth safely, supplementing with tube feeding as necessary. It is important to note that having a feeding tube doesn’t make it dangerous to eat by mouth, nor does eating by mouth cause damage to the tube.

Q.3. Is a feeding tube insertion permanent?

A.3. Although feeding tubes are often placed temporarily to assist patients during surgeries or acute illnesses, where they may require services such as NGT feeding at home, there are cases where they serve as a life-long solution, which is where they are recommended PEG tubes for long-term requirements.

Q.4. Is staying at a hospital required for patients who have a feeding tube?

A.4. It may not always be necessary for the patient to remain at the hospital because of the feeding tube. Most of the individuals with long-term feeding tubes can receive tube feeding at home and yet manage to live an active lifestyle. However, some may require TPN at home – it depends on their sickness or condition.

Q.5. Can patients consume real food through a feeding tube?

A.5. The short answer is yes! While some individuals may need special formulas, many prefer consuming proper food. Patients can have their nurses or caregivers blend their meal into a thin mixture and feed through the feeding tube, based on their dietician’s advice.

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