Have you ever wondered how you would receive nourishing meals and fluids if you had difficulty with swallowing? How would you ensure that your body received the vitamins and energy needed to grow and function every day if you couldn’t eat food? There are many reasons that lead to someone being at risk of aspiration or choking on foods and fluids. It can be for a short period of time or it can be permanent and therefore it is not safe for them to eat and drink via the mouth if swallowing is compromised. Nutrition support and assistant is vital for life and our Dietitians are knowledgeable and experienced to deliver the support needed to create solutions that continue to promote optimal health.
Nutrition support, enteral feeding, tube feeding, PEG, NG. These words are familiar to some, for others not so much and is extremely daunting when hearing about it for the first time. Some people have known nothing different. So what do they mean?
What is enteral feeding?
Enteral feeding (or tube feeding) is a specialised liquid form of food (formula) and is a way that you can get nutrition if you are not able to eat, or eat enough, to keep you well. This liquid is delivered straight to your stomach or small intestine with a tube.
Different types of enteral feeding
There are a couple of ways the formula can be provided and this depends on a number of things such as duration (tube feeding is not necessarily a permanent thing!), some common ones are listed below:
Nasogastric tube – is a tube that is inserted through the nose and down into the stomach
Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (shortened to PEG – the large name describes how the tube is inserted) – is inserted into the stomach, through an opening on your stomach
Percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (shortened to PEJ – similar to PEG) – is inserted into the jejunum which is a part of the small intestine.
How does the formula get to the stomach or intestine?
There are a few ways the formula can then reach the stomach or intestine, depending on your preferences, needs and input from wider formal and informal support team.
With a syringe – this is often called bolus feeding, the formula is provided via a large syringe that uses gravity to push the formula through the tube, bolus feeding is given over a shorter period of time and in a larger volume
With a feeding pump – this method uses an electronic pump that pushes the formula through the feeding tube in a controlled way, often over longer periods of time to give a smaller volume.
How is a dietitian involved?
Dietitians will help in several ways when tube feeding is required
- Support to find a formula, regime and method that minimises impact on your life
- Communicate with your GP and support team
- Work with you to balance your nutrition
- Review your formula and regime regularly to ensure it is still working for you
- Help to troubleshoot any problems if they arise
- Assist in accessing formula and equipment
Q. Can I still eat when they have a feeding tube?
A. This depends on the individual circumstances, but in some cases YES! This is discussed with the individual, their speech pathologist, dietitian and support team
Q. Will I still be able to do daily tasks or activities
A. YES! Work, school, university, shopping, socialising are all still possible with a feeding tube. Your team will let you know if there are any activities to be mindful of.
Q. What about medication
A. Medication can be provided through the tube, your GP and pharmacist will help you get the right medication for this (liquid or crushable)
If you or anyone you know is currently tube fed or may require this in the future, Optimum Intake can help answer some of those burning questions. We are an NDIS registered provider an can offer a range of services to assist.
If you would like to know more about Optimum Intake services, please contact on of our team on 0499 008 451.