Due to illness, injury, age, or birth defects, many people need feeding tubes, or a gastrostomy tube. These tubes, also referred to as G-tubes, help people get vital nutrients.

In order to keep the patient healthy and well-nourished, their caretakers need to understand the importance of these tubes and how to properly care for them.

An Overview: Why Are G-Tubes Needed?

February 6-10, 2017 marked the sixth annual Feeding Tube Awareness Week.

A week devoted to feeding tubes might seem odd. However, as of 2012, half a million people needed feeding tubes, and that number was expected to rise by eight percent by 2015.

According to the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation, over 300 conditions result in a person needing a gastrostomy tube.

According to MedLinePlus.gov, the basic reasons why people need a feeding tube is because:

  • A patient tends to inhale food when they eat.
  • The patient can’t swallow correctly.
  • They can’t take in enough food by mouth to ensure they consume enough nutrients.
  • A child has a birth defect.

Because so many people need a G-tube, their caretakers need to know how to properly care for them.

Properly Care for a Feeding Tube with These Six Steps

If your loved one ends up needing a feeding tube, it’s important that you know how to properly care for it. Follow these steps to keep your loved one healthy.

1. Start by Properly Washing Your Hands

It is imperative that you clean your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water to prevent infection. Some recommend washing for up to two minutes before handling the tube.

2. Flush the Tube

Before and after each meal – as well as medication administration – the tube should be flushed with clean water.

3. Clean the Insertion Site

At least once each day, the tube insertion site should be inspected and cleaned. If there is any redness or swelling, a doctor should evaluate it as soon as possible.

If the site looks healthy, wash it with a wash cloth and soap and water.

4. Make Sure There’s No Pull on the Tube

Tugging from movement or clothing can pull on the tract and cause discomfort, damage the stomach, and lead to infection.

While cleaning the tube, you’ll need to rotate the external bolster. Remember not to pull too hard, though!

5. Monitor the Tube for Leaks

Leaks onto the skin can cause irritation. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable (and in some cases downright painful), it can result in an infection as well.

Get Assistance from Intrepid USA Home Healthcare Providers

Taking care of a sick or elderly family member can take a lot out of you. That’s why it’s so important to recognize when to ask for help. There’s nothing shameful in this. In fact, getting help from professional home healthcare providers is a great way to provide excellent care for your loved one.
Home health workers can take a load off of your shoulders and use their experience and expertise to care for your family member. This will ensure that both of you remain happy and healthy for years to come!

Depending on other conditions, feeding tubes can qualify for private duty nursing services which provides hourly skilled nursing services to assist with feedings, medication administration, monitoring, and teaching to the families.

If you or a your family has a need for a feeding tube, please call Intrepid today.