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Critical Care: Nutritional support for ICU patients

Many patients admitted to an intensive or critical care unit may not be able to eat and drink, sometimes because they are not conscious, or they need the help with breathing (using a ventilator), or because of surgery to the gut.

Good nutrition is important to help the body maintain and repair itself and the body may need more energy and nutrients because of injury or illness. For patients who are unable to eat and drink a liquid feed can be given through a tube into the stomach. The tube can be placed via the nose and into the stomach, this is called a nasogastric tube. Alternatively if the stomach is not working properly it can be placed from the nose into the small intestine, this is called a nasojejunal tube. This method of nutrition support can be used to give all the essential daily nutrients that a patient might need.

Some patients in the intensive care unit can eat and drink, however, if they cannot eat and drink enough to meet their needs oral nutritional supplements or tube feeding can be used to ‘top-up’ their nutritional intake.

HCP Information for Critical Care: Nutritional support for ICU patients

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