Feeding tubes become a must when all the attempts to induce oral ingestion of food in a patient fails. Though enteral feeding tubes are very helpful in providing nutrients to the body, they may be uncomfortable and can even increase the risk of infections. Know more about these tubes in this article.
Certain health conditions may prevent a person to ingest the food orally. In such cases, enteral feeding tubes are the only source of providing nutrition. These tubes are directly inserted into the digestive tract of the individual. People with an impaired digestive health are mostly the candidates for this type of feeding. This feeding tube is inserted at the site depending upon the affected organ and the patient’s particular requirement. The feeding tube bypasses the affected digestive organs and directly opens in the intestine, from where the liquid food can be processed and nutrients can be supplied to the body.
There are different enteral types of feeding tubes such as Naso-Gastric Tubes (NGT) and Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) tubes. These are classified according to the sites from where they are inserted and the internal organ where they supply nutrition.
Enteral feeding tubes are inserted by the specialists after studying the most suitable site according to the patient’s individual needs. Tubes with stylet are used to direct the tube through the body cavity. The most common conditions in which these tubes are used are severe digestive system failure or if there is a disorder which prevents oral ingestion of food. Throat cancer, head and neck injuries can all deter a person from ingesting food orally. Oftentimes, nervous disorders or severe metabolic disorders may also make it impossible for the person to ingest food orally. Feeding tube is considered as a last resort when all the attempts for oral ingestion of the food are exhausted.
Complications may arise if due care is not taken while inserting the tube. This is a delicate job and requires an expert only. However, irrespective of all care, some complications are bound to arise. The possibility of gas entering through feeding tubes is very high if they are not placed properly. Needless to say, this can cause a lot of discomfort to the patient.
The presence of tube itself, though not particularly painful, can be quite uncomfortable for the patient. Besides, the possibility of infection at the site of insertion is high if there is even small leakage. The pathogens can easily enter the body through the enlarged stoma at the site of insertion. This can be distressful to the already compromised immune system of the person.
Clogging of feeding tube is yet another common problem with this type of feeding. The feeding tube needs to be cleaned before every feeding. Besides, the placement of the tube has to be checked before introducing any food. Enteral tube feeding can also be challenging for the patient on an emotional level. Apart from the fact, that it causes lot of dependence on the caregiver, the process does not provide any gastronomic pleasure to the person.
Since, he cannot taste, smell or touch food with his senses, he may completely lose interest in the entire feeding process and eventually go in depression. This can have an adverse effect upon the mental and physical health of the patient. This is probably the reason why only less than 40% of the patients survive more than a year when on this diet.
Human digestive system is not designed only for liquid diet and this kind of feeding, hence it might take some time for the body to get used to feeding through tubes.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.