What You Need to Know About Gastric Tube Feeding
More than half a million people in the United States rely on gastric tube feeding to get enough nutrients to survive. There are many reasons why a person may need a gastric tube. The person may be unable to take in food directly through their mouth or the person may have a hard time keeping food down.
Often, gastric tube feeding is necessary for certain severe illnesses that make it difficult for a person to eat enough nutrition every day. But what does gastric tube feeding involve, and what should you know about it? Keep reading and learn more about it below.
What You Need to Know About Gastric Tube Feeding
The first thing you should know is how a gastric tube is first inserted. Inserting a gastric tube will require a surgical operation. It is important for the person getting the gastric tube to not eat anything for about 8 hours before the operation. This will ensure that excess food will not get in the way when inserting the gastric tube.
For the operation, the person will be sedated with anesthesia. This will ensure that the person will not feel any pain during the procedure and that the person is completely relaxed. In some cases, the person may be rendered unconscious with anesthesia.
The treated person will also have an antibiotic drip leading into a vein. This will ensure that the risk of infection after the procedure is very low. Once all that is taken care of, the doctor will first take a special, long tool known as an endoscope and insert it into the person’s stomach by feeding it through the person’s throat.
The endoscope will have a camera on the end of it, so it will be easier to visualize a good place in the lining of the stomach to insert the gastric tube (also known as the PEG tube). To create space for the tube, it is necessary to first create a small incision in the wall of your abdomen so that there is a direct attachment between your stomach and the outside of your body.
The entire surgery is relatively simple and straightforward. It should not take any longer than an hour. After the procedure, it will be very important for the doctor to keep a close eye on the treated person’s recovery. Directly after the procedure, certain things may go wrong.
For example, there may be inappropriate leakage around the new incision or there may be signs of bleeding or infection. If so, it is important for the doctor to treat the problem right away before it gets any worse. A little bit of drainage around the incision is normal.
As the incision heals, it will be covered with dressings to keep it as clean as possible. After the area around the feeding tube heals, it will be important for the person or a caregiver to learn how to handle the feeding tube, especially when it comes to home healthcare.
Taking Care of a Gastric Feeding Tube
In older people, it is usually not possible for the person to take care of the gastric feeding tube on their own. For example, an elderly person with dementia or a person with a severe disease will not have the strength or knowledge to take care of the feeding tube. For that reason, home nursing care is important.
Professional healthcare workers can help the person take care of the feeding tube and keep it clean. This is not only important for making sure that the affected person gets enough nutrition every day, but also because keeping the gastric feeding tube clean is necessary to prevent infections. During the first few days after getting a feeding tube, the treated person may feel some pain or discomfort around the area of the feeding tube.
However, this discomfort should go away on its own after a few days as the area continues to heal. However, if the pain gets much worse, it is important to contact the doctor in case an infection has taken hold. Even after the incision is completely healed, it is still important to clean the area around the tube every day to make sure an infection doesn’t start.
What You Need to Know
There are many food formulas you can buy from certain stores that you can feed through the feeding tube. These formulas are designed to provide the affected person with all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Depending on the feeding tube, the force of gravity may be enough to propel the formula mixture into the person’s stomach.
In other cases, it may be necessary to use a pump to propel the food through the feeding tube. It is important to feed the affected person at least three times a day, usually around the same time as usual mealtimes. These days, feeding tubes are quite durable, and they can often last several years without needing to be replaced.
If you find that taking care of a person with a feeding tube is too demanding for you, hiring home nursing care may be your best option.
All About Gastric Tube Feeding
Gastric tube feeding can be difficult to deal with, but it is very important for those who are unable to eat on their own. The surgery to get a gastric feeding tube is fast and not complicated, but it is important to make sure that the feeding tube stays clean after the procedure. Otherwise, an infection may take hold.
Home healthcare services can make caring for a person with a feeding tube much easier. Contact us here to learn more.