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Feeding Tube-related Complications and Problems

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

One of the most important things we do as humans on a daily basis is eat. We would not be able to make it through a day if we did not stock up on the energy that food gives to us. But, when complications arise concerning someone’s ability to consume enough food through typical eating methods, it becomes that much more important to provide methods of helping those individuals get the nutrients they need to live.

infant in one piece clothes with feeding tube by kozie clothes

A common method of feeding an individual that is unable to feed themselves is enteral feeding, or tube feeding. This method involves deliverance of food in a partially-processed form directly to the stomach and small intestine. While this feeding method typically is experienced first within a medical facility, some individuals require being fed this way for extended lengths, and other times permanently. When this enteral feeding occurs outside the hospital or other medical facility, it is referred to as home enteral nutrition (HEN). It is quite possible that while someone may have trouble getting food to their digestive system, that system itself may function perfectly normally.

When a person is recommended to begin enteral feeding, they will experience various levels of access to medical assistance throughout the feeding transition. Regardless of what that level may be, it is relevant to take some time and research common complications that occur from this method of eating.

Before doing so, it would be relevant to understand exactly how medical professionals allow for food delivery past the traditionally primary stops of the digestive system. Two common methods include gastrostomy feeding tubes, which deliver food directly to the stomach, and jejunostomy feeding tubes, which reach the small intestines first. In order to do this, a hole (or stoma) is created in a respective place on the torso which the tube is attached to. As this is a man-produced addition to aid in digestion, it is to be expected that some complications are bound to occur. Some of these include:

  • Wound infection/agitation

  • Minor bleeding

  • Necrotizing fasciitis (infection leading to soft tissue death)

  • A child pulling on/reaching for the tube (which may cause these other problems)

  • Tube dislodgement on surrounding objects

  • Wound leakage

  • Aspiration (breathing in a foreign object)

  • Fluid imbalance

  • Diarrhea

It is imperative to understand the risks that one may experience when utilizing this method of feeding. Fortunately, there are a myriad of products that exist to help these individuals avoid the risks associated with utilizing HEN.

Bodysuits created for individuals that utilize enteral feeding help to reduce the risk of most of the associated risks with tube feeding, in that they help to keep tubes in place and out of reach, as well as providing an overall comforting feeling for the user. Being able to access the abdominal site through specifically designed clothing without lifting up clothing for feeding provides dignity, easy access, and helps to reduce agitation of the wound when accessing the tube site.

Compression and protection belts are also excellent resources to utilize, as they provide further comfort and sensory stimulation to an individual utilizing HEN feeding tactics. On top of this, they continue to place another washable layer between the stoma and the outside world.

G-Tube pads help to absorb leakage from the stoma and tube, which help to reduce irritation and inflammation around and under the tube itself. Commonly, parents and doctors feel they help reduce and prevent granulation tissue that occurs through HEN.

For g-tube pads, compression belts, as well as body suits, they all are excellent products to consider due to their customization and personalization. While enteral feeding is not exactly a fun experience, incorporating uplifting products and goods throughout the process will help remind the individual being fed that they are being cared for, and that the temporary discomfort they may experience throughout the process is helping them to continue to be the individual that they are when they’re not feeding. Be sure to talk with and work with the individuals you interact with that utilize this methodology – see if certain portions seem like they could use some uplifting or increased sanitary precaution.

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