How to Clear a Feeding Tube


A feeding tube can provide critical nutrition to a person either in recovery from a procedure that prevents him from eating temporarily, or a person with a disease or condition that prevents him from consuming food by chewing and swallowing it. However, like any other tube, feeding tubes can get clogged from time to time and need to be cleared. Minor clogs can be dealt with simply, but more persistent clogs could require the expertise of a medical professional who knows how to handle the equipment without damaging it or the patient relying on it.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm water
  • Large syringe

Identify the area where the tube is clogged if possible. Look for any area where food or liquids are backing up and no longer advancing down the tube. However, it may be possible that the blocked area is not visible to the naked eye because it could be in the part of the tube that is inside the patient.

Load some warm water into the large syringe. Do not use a syringe that has been used previously; only use a new clean one.

Insert the syringe into the tube's opening, and push the water in the syringe into the tube by pushing down on the syringe's plunger.

Pull back on the plunger of the syringe, and push it back down again in an effort to dislodge the clogged area of the tube. This process may need to be repeated several times to completely clear the clog, but do not begin to quickly and violently push and pull on the plunger, as it could damage the feeding tube.

Contact the relevant medical professional if that process did not clear the tube, as unclogging it will require professional expertise.

Tips & Warnings

  • Regularly flush a feeding tube after feedings to help keep the tube clear of any clogs.
  • Never attempt to clear a clog in a feeding tube with some sort of probe or other instrument inserted into the tube to dislodge it. Doing so could puncture a hole in the tube or cause injury to the patient.

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