If you're caring for someone who needs a feeding tube, you should be aware of the common problems that arise from feeding tube use and how to quickly solve them. The more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to not panic if a feeding tube problem arises. The most important thing you can do for yourself and the person you're caring for is to stay calm.
Make sure the feeding tube isn't kinked. If it is, carefully straighten out the tube so medication and formula can flow freely.
Thoroughly crush or completely dissolve any pills that need to go through the feeding tube. Not doing so can cause the feeding tube to become obstructed. If this becomes a problem, find out if a liquid medication is available.
Be ready to flush out any thick formulas or medications that need to go through the feeding tube. Substances that contain a lot of calories or fiber are known for clogging feeding tubes. These substances can be flushed out with about 30 milliliters of water. To reduce the risk of clogging, flush the feeding tube with about 10 milliliters of water between each dose of medication or feeding even if no clogging is evident.
Gravity feeding may result in an obstruction of the feeding tube. If this is the case, use a pump for feedings.
Coagulation in the feeding tube can result from the build up of bacteria. To minimize bacteria, wash your hands before touching feeding equipment, formula, or medication. Store formula according to the package's instructions. Always throw away formula that has expired. If coagulation occurs due to the build up of bacteria, replace the feeding tube.
If the feeding tube develops a dark discoloration or nodules form inside the tube, yeast formation may be the cause. The feeding tube will have to be replaced, and you should notify the doctor.