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Tube Feeding

Throughout Ireland, people of all ages with a variety of different conditions are living with tube feeding.

Nutricia’s tube feed ranges are designed to support you or your loved one through your patient journey.

We have developed this hub to help you understand, adapt and live confidently with tube feeding in your life. 

Understanding the decision to tube feed:

Your healthcare professional has recommended tube feeding for you or the person you care for. Perhaps you had time to consider the option of tube feeding in the hospital or that decision to start tube feeding might have been made very quickly. Either way, it is natural to feel concerned or overwhelmed when you're first faced with the prospect of tube feeding.

As with anything we don't fully understand, starting tube feeding can seem daunting. At this time, there can be so many questions about its impact on your health and on all aspects of your life. 

The right support, guidance and information, can help you gain the knowledge and confidence you need to understand and accept the decision to start tube feeding. We're here to help you do just that. With tips and FAQs we'll help you understand why tube feeding may be the best choice for you or the person you care for, and how it can be a positive part of your life.

Tube feeding can be recommended for a diverse range of people with many different conditions and circumstances. Candidates for tube feeding may have different medical issues, but you all have one thing in common - you can't eat enough to get the right amount of nutrition. Tube feeding has been recommended to help you or the person you care for receive all the nutrients needed. Although it can be an overwhelming prospect at first, tube feeding can make a real improvement to quality of life compared to when you/they weren't getting enough nutrition.

What is tube feeding? 

Tube feeding is a way of getting your body the nutrition it needs. Tube feed is a liquid form of nourishment that’s delivered to your body through a flexible tube. The nutrients within the tube feed are similar to what you would get from normal food and are also digested in the same way. Tube feed contains all the nutrients you need on a daily basis, including carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. 

Why tube feeding? 

Tube feeding can be recommended for a diverse range of people with many different conditions and circumstances. Candidates for tube feeding may have different medical issues, but you all have one thing in common - you can't eat enough to get the right amount of nutrition. Tube feeding has been recommended to help you or the person you care for receive all the nutrients needed. Although it can be an overwhelming prospect at first, tube feeding can make a real improvement to quality of life compared to when you/they weren't getting enough nutrition.

 

 

What are the benefits of tube feeding? 

Your healthcare professional has recommended tube feeding for you or the person you care for because it will help get the nutrients the body needs but isn't currently getting by eating. Without the right amount of nutrition there might be a risk of:

  • Reduced energy and strength: having fewer calories (energy) and taking in less protein than needed may cause tiredness, which can impact on nearly everything you do - from shopping and cooking to work and play. In the long run, both your muscle tone and physical strength can also start to diminish.
  • Unplanned weight loss: taking in fewer calories than your body needs leads to weigh lose, which can make those living with an illness or disease more vulnerable to poor health and response to treatment.
  • Weaker immune system: the gut is part of your immune system, so poor nutrition may lead to a weaker immune system.

The benefit of tube feeding are to reduce these risks. By providing all the nutrients you need on a daily basis, tube feeding can improve energy and strength, prevent weight loss and support your immune system. For many, tube feeding is the only option available to keep them alive.

While it takes time to adapt, tube feeding may provide real benefits to your health and well-being. It can alo take away some of the stress that comes with trying to eat by mouth, and the worry of having to meet your nutritional needs.

How safe is tube feeding?

Advances in sciences of food, food technology, nutrition and medicine have established tube feeding as a standard way of restoring or preserving nutritional health in people who are chronically or critically ill.

Occasionally, some people will experience challenges when adjusting to tube feeding,. While it is important to be aware of potential tube feeding problems. it's important to remember that these problems can largely be anticipated and prevented.

 Your healthcare team will help you learn how to prevent and deal with possible tube feeding problems with education around:

  • Caring for your tubes
  • Maintaining your equipment 
  • Optimising how to follow your tube feeding plan
  • Where to go for support. 

Even when you go home, you won't be left alone to resolve any tube feeding problems on your own. You'll be given information on the community support available to you, including your Public Health Nurse and dietitian. 

Tube feeding problems:

At some point, people may run into problems with their feeding tube. The first time this happens, you're likely to feel anxious and confused about what to do. This is completely natural, but you'll find that with time and practice, you'll come to learn how to solve most tube feeding problems on your own. 

Even though regular maintenance and care make tube feeding problems unlikely, possible challenges include:

  • The tube becoming blocked 
  • The tube falling out 
  • Leaking or fluid around the tube 
  • Discomfort when feeding 
  • Infection or irritation of the skin around the tube.

Your healthcare team can support you if you encounter tube feeding problems; there are also many simple long-term care measures you can take to help avoid any problems from happening. 

Resources

Visit our Resource Centre for a wide range of professional resources to support you and your patients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Information which might be useful.

Nutricia Homeward Support Team

All the contact details you need in order to help make the transition from hospital to home as easy as possible.

Do you need support?

Contact our team of experts for guidance and support on the use and composition of the Nutricia product range. We are available Monday to Friday 9am-5pm (except Bank Holidays)

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