When is a feeding tube necessary?

Are you constantly worrying about whether or not your loved one needs a feeding tube? Well, fear no more! In this article we will be discussing when it’s actually necessary to get a feeding tube. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of enteral feedings.

First Things First: What is a Feeding Tube?

Before we dive headfirst into the ins and outs of feeding tubes let’s first discuss what they are. A feeding tube is essentially exactly what it sounds like – a thin flexible tube that provides nutrition directly to the stomach or small intestine.

Types of Feeding Tubes

There are four main types of tubes when it comes to enteral feedings:

  • Nasogastric Tube (NGT)
  • Gastrostomy Tube (G-Tube)
  • Jejunostomy Tube (J-Tube)
  • Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) Tube

Each type serves its own purpose depending on the specific medical needs of the individual.

When Is It Necessary To Get A Feeding Tube?

Now that you know what types there are, let’s talk about when it becomes necessary for someone to actually have one inserted.

Inability to Eat Enough Food Or Drink Enough Fluids

If an individual cannot eat enough food or drink enough fluids for any reason such as surgery recovery or illness then getting a feeding tube might be necessary until they are able to resume their normal diet habits.

Swallowing Problems

If someone has difficulty swallowing either due to disease or anatomy abnormalities then inserting a
feeding-tube would help in making sure they obtain proper nutrients without risking aspirating while eating/drinking.

Airway Protection/Prevention from Aspiration Pneumonia

Aspirating can lead down a slippery slope causing severely negative health implications if done repetitively over time, especially among the elderly population. A feeding tube in these scenarios can satisfy nutritional needs while also help protect airways from accidental choking or aspiration of food which may cause aspiration pneumonia.

Neurological Disorders

Individuals with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and ALS may have trouble producing enough muscle strength to chew and swallow safely, resulting in them needing a syringe-fed liquid diet through a feeding-tube.

What are Some Risks Of Having A Feeding Tube?

Like any medical procedure or treatment option there are potential risks associated with feeding tubes.


One of the main concerns when it comes to feeding tubes is infection at their insertion site.

Abdominal Distention/Constipation

It is possible that individuals will experience constipation due to their change in diet once they start using a feeding-tube instead of eating regularly by mouth.Not only this, but gas build up may lead to abdominal distension causing unwanted pain/discomfort and interruption of daily activities

Dislodgement/Malfunctioning Tube:

There are times where conditions could result in improper functioning if properly inspected-which would result either in increasing gastric or intestinal complications from dislodgement most commonly caused by diarrhea-vomiting-narrowed passages or clotting amongst other plausible causes like natural wear & tear.

The Pros And Cons Of Feeding Tubes

Let’s break down some pros and cons:

  • Provides necessary nutrition
  • Can prevent malnutrition
  • Prevent aspirating during mealtime
  • Easy care routine

Limited Enjoyment With Mealtime
The primary disadvantage many patients often consider before accepting an enteral feed system lie on partaking satisfying meals as per usual catering life-long traditional belief ; fundamentally altering dynamics surrounding social circumstances including family/friends gatherings-Cultural backgrounds-even religious affiliations-events most known for its celebration almost exclusively incorporating alimentary-based or cooking-related activities.

Possible complications

While infrequent or minor, a few inherent disadvantages of tube feeding- when not properly maintained, difficulties include sepsis-an inflammatory response by the body causing widespread infection-bloating or regurgitation. Limited mobility may also be a cause as noted earlier on this article and system malfunction.

In Conclusion..

Getting an enteral feed is one way to both provide someone with necessary nutrition and prevent them from potential harm caused by unsafe eating habits due to health conditions. Though there are some risks involved, proper care routines can help minimize those risks.

So next time you’re worried about whether your loved one needs a feeding-tube or not – remember these guidelines!

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