Tube feeding, or enteral nutrition, is a feeding method that ensures that nutrition is delivered straight to the small intestine or the stomach. This can be prescribed to people if, for whatever reason, they are unable to get the nutrition they actually need. There are different manufacturers of enteral feeding technologies out there, but the Kangaroo feeding pumps – USAMedicalSurgical.com– are by far the most popular.
Kangaroo Feeding Pumps – USEMedicalSurgical.com – and Home Feeding
Tube feeding is very common in hospitals, but certain patients are fit and healthy enough to remain in their own home, yet still require enteral feeding. In this case, they may be prescribed home enteral nutrition, as well as being assigned to a care team. This team can teach patients, or their loved ones and carers, how to use tubes. They will also always be there to ensure support is available if a problem does occur.
Home tube feeding can be recommended in a range of different situations. In most cases, it is advisable for people who have a properly functioning digestive system, but who have difficulties in eating itself. This can happen when people have:
- Cancer, particularly of the neck and head. Cancer treatment often makes it very painful or difficult to swallow.
- Neurological problems, including ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or a stroke.
- Gastrointestinal problems, including bowel obstruction or gastroparesis.
- Traumas, such as digestive tract injuries.
There are some cases where tube feeding may be offered to people who have other conditions, although this is generally offered not at home but rather in a hospital setting. This includes people who are on a hunger strike, and those with anorexia or bulimia.
The Types of Feeding Tubes
Feeding tubes are designed to ensure nutrition goes straight into the small intestine and stomach. Different tubes exist, each with their own particularly advantages and disadvantages. They include:
- Feeding tubes that enter the system through the nose. These are generally provided to those who require a tube for less than a month. The nasogastric tube goes through the nose into the stomach, whereas the nasojejunal tube goes from the nose into the small intestine.
- Feeding tubes that enter the system through an incision on the skin of the abdomen. These are generally offered to those who require long term feeding. Doctors may recommend this by offering a gastrostomy (if it enters the stomach), or a jejunostomy (if it enters the small intestine).
The big difference is the length of time a tube should stay in place. With nasal systems, the risk of infections and wounds is larger, which is why it is not recommended to have them for over a month. However, each situation is different, and the reason why people are not eating is also of importance. Whether through the nose or the abdomen, someone who is on hunger strike, for instance, could choose to rip it out. The dangers are then far greater if it is inserted directly into the stomach. That said, they often need lengthy periods with a tube, which means a nasal one may not be suitable.