Home Nasogastric Tube Feeding

This handout is designed to help you and your family understand how to give yourself feedings through your nasogastric [NAY-zoh-GAS-trik] tube after you go home.

Tube feedings are given when you cannot eat enough or drink enough to have adequate nutrition for the body. Good nutrition is needed for your body to heal. Fluid is needed to prevent your body from getting dried out(dehydrated).

A nasogastric (NG) tube is a long, narrow feeding tube that goes through your nose and down into your stomach.

The NG tube is soft and bendable. (See the diagram)

When you leave the hospital, you should be able to:

  • Give yourself liquid food and water through the feeding tube

  • Give yourself medication through the tube

  • Take care of the tube

  • “Trouble-shoot” problems if they arise

This handout gives added information for you and your family. It should not replace discussions with your doctors, nurses, or dietitians.

Understanding the Equipment

Before giving your feeding, you will need:

  • 60cc syringe

  • Liquid food prescribed by your doctor

  • Measuring cup

  • Clean food container

  • IV pole or wall hook to hang the food container while receiving the feeding (optional in the home)

The setup for feedings is shown below:

To get your liquid food, attach the tube from the end of the food container to the end of your NG feeding tube. This is for intermittent or continuous feedings.

Giving the Tube Feeding

1. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the NG feeding tube, food, or medication.

2. Check the placement of your feeding tube:

  • Attach a 60cc syringe to the end of your feeding tube.

  • Pull back on the plunger. You should see some gastric juices (yellow-green fluid). This is stomach content and tells you the tube is in your stomach.

  • If you pull back more than 150cc of fluid, do not give yourself food. Inject the stomach content, which contains important minerals, back into the tube.

    Then flush with water. Wait for a few hours and check again.

    Tell your visiting nurse or your doctor if this occurs frequently.

3. If stomach content does not show when you pull back on the plunger, you can use another method to check placement:

  • Draw up 20cc of air into your syringe.

  • Insert the air into your feeding tube while holding one hand over your stomach.

  • Call your doctor if you see no stomach content and feel no air bubbles under your hand. This may indicate your tube has been displaced.

4. To give yourself the feeding, follow these steps:

  • Insert the tip of the tube from your food container into your feeding tube.

  • Open the clamp slowly to adjust the speed of the feeding.

  • Your meal should last 45 minutes to an hour. It is important to sit up or prop your head up while receiving your feeding. If you have choking or difficulty breathing during a feeding, stop the feeding and call your doctor immediately.

  • When the feeding is done, fill the food container with the amount of water your doctor prescribes. This provides fluids for you and flushes out the tube.

  • After the water is given, roll the clamp down to turn off and disconnect the food container.

5. Wash out the food container after each use:

  • Use dishwashing liquid and water to wash the container.

  • Rinse the container thoroughly.

  • Use a clean food container for each feeding.

Giving Your Medication

Medications can be given through your NG tube. Use the liquid form of your medication if it is available at your pharmacy. If the liquid form is not available, you must crush your pills.

If the letters “SR” appear after the drug name on the label, this indicates the medication is “sustained-release.” Do not crush these pills. Check with your pharmacist or nurse to be sure that your pills may be crushed and given at the same time.

To give your medication, follow these steps:

  • Check for feeding tube placement (see “Giving the Tube Feeding,” Steps 2 and 3).

  • Flush your feeding tube with 30cc of water before giving your medication.

  • Crush the pills. To crush your pills, place them in a plastic bag, and then use a rolling pin or soup can as a crushing instrument. After you have crushed your pills finely, let the pieces dissolve in warm water (not hot water) so that no pieces will clog your tube.

  • Draw medication up into your syringe by pulling back on the plunger.

  • Attach the syringe to the end of the feeding tube. Then push on the plunger to give your medication.

  • Flush the tube with 30cc of water after giving your medication.

  • Some medications should be given with food; others on an empty stomach. Ask your pharmacist for directions.

Mouth and Tube Care

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily, if your doctor says you may.

  • Clean the area where the NG tube goes into your nostrils daily. Use a cotton-tip applicator moistened with warm water. If your nose becomes sore, you may apply water-soluble lubricant (such as Surgilube or K-Y jelly).

  • Change your nasal tape every other day or when it is loose.

    Make sure the nasal tape is secure at all times. If your feeding tube falls out, call your doctor as soon as possible.

  • To prevent a clogged feeding tube, flush your tube with water each time after giving a feeding or medication.

  • If your tube becomes clogged, you can use these methods:

  • Place the syringe into your feeding tube, and pull back on the plunger.

  • Flush your tube with warm tap water.

  • If you cannot unclog your tube, call your doctor immediately. It is important not to miss your prescribed liquid food and water.

When to Call the Doctor

  • If you choke or have difficulty breathing during a feeding, stop the feeding and call your doctor immediately.

  • If you cannot unclog your tube, call your doctor immediately.

  • If your feeding tube falls out or you cannot confirm that the end of the tube is in your stomach, call your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Call your doctor if any of the following last for more than a day: diarrhea, constipation, nausea, dark urine, bad-smelling urine, dry mouth

  • Call your doctor if the tube seems to be moving farther out.

Personalized Meal Schedule

Name of liquid food:  ________________________________________________________

Total amount of liquid food daily:  _____________________________________________

Total amount of water daily:  __________________________________________________

Meal schedule:  _____________________________________________________________

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