When a health problem restricts you from eating or drinking enough to have adequate nutrition for the body, tube feedings can provide:\n\nGood nutrition to help your body to heal\nFluid to prevent your body from drying out (dehydration)\n\nUse this guide to help you and your family understand how to give yourself feedings through your gastrostomy [gas-TROS-tuh-mee] tube after returning from the hospital.\nThe feeding tube goes into your stomach through a stoma.\nWhat Is a Gastrostomy Tube?\nThe gastrostomy tube (GT) is a short feeding tube that goes directly into your stomach through a surgical incision called a stoma [STOH-muh].\nThe GT is soft and bendable.\nWhen you leave the hospital, you should be able to:\n\nGive yourself liquid food and water through the feeding tube.\nGive yourself medication through the tube.\nClean and take care of the GT.\nTroubleshoot problems if they arise.\n\nUnderstanding the Tube Feeding Equipment\nBefore your feeding, you will need:\n\n60cc syringe\nLiquid food prescribed by your doctor\nMeasuring cup\nClean food container\nIV pole or wall hook to hang the food container while receiving the feeding\n\n\n\n\nAn IV pole lets you hang the food container while receiving tube feedings.\nTo receive your liquid food, attach the tube from the end of the food bag to the end of your GT.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nGiving the Tube Feeding\n1. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the GT, food, or medication.\nAttach a 60cc syringe to the end of your feeding tube.\n2. Check the placement of your GT, then:\n\nAttach a 60cc syringe to the end of your feeding tube.\nPull back on the plunger. You should see some gastric juices (yellow-green fluid). This is stomach content and tells you the tube is in your stomach.\nIf you pull back a large amount of fluid, do not give yourself food. Inject the stomach content, which contains important minerals, back into the tube. Then flush with water. Wait for a few hours and check again. Tell your visiting nurse or your doctor if this occurs often.\n\n3. Some patients need to compare the length of the feeding tube at home to what it was in the hospital. If your doctor told you to do this, write down the length of the tube as measured in the hospital.\n\nUse a ruler to measure the length from the stoma site to the end of the feeding tube.\nCall your doctor if you see no stomach content and the length of your tube has changed. This may mean the tube is out of place.\n\n4. To give yourself the feeding:\n\n\nSlowly open the clamp on your GT to adjust the speed of the feeding.\nInsert the tip of the tube from your food container into your feeding tube (GT).\nOpen the clamp slowly to adjust the speed of the feeding.\nYour meal should last 45 minutes to an hour.\nIt’s important to sit up or prop your head up while receiving your feeding. If you choke or have difficulty breathing during a feeding, stop and call your doctor right away.\nWhen you’re done with the feeding, fill the food container with the amount of water your doctor prescribes. This provides fluids for you and flushes out the tube.\nAfter you’ve had water, roll the clamp down to turn off and disconnect the food container\nInsert the GT plug.\n\n5. Wash out the food container after each use:\n\nUse dishwashing liquid and water to wash the container.\nRinse the container thoroughly.\nUse a clean food container for each feeding.\n\nTaking Your Medication Through Your Feeding Tube\nYou can take your medications through your GT.\nBefore you use your feeding tube for medicine:\n\nUse the liquid form of your medication if your pharmacy has it. If you can’t get the liquid form, you must crush your pills.\nDo not crush sustained-release pills. If the letters “SR” appear after the drug name on the prescription bottle label, this means the medication is “sustained-release.” You do not want to crush these pills to take through your feeding tube.\nCheck with your pharmacist or nurse to be sure that you can crush your pills and take them at the same time. Also ask if you should take your medications with food or on an empty stomach.\n\nSteps for giving medicine through your feeding tube\nTo give your medication through your GT, follow these steps:\n\nCheck for feeding tube placement (see step 2 of “Giving the Tube Feeding”).\nFlush your feeding tube with 30cc of water before giving your medication.\nCrush the pills. To crush your pills, place them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin or soup can to crush them.\nAfter you have crushed your pills finely, let the pieces dissolve in warm water (not hot water) so that no pieces will clog your tube.\nDraw medication up into your syringe by pulling back on the plunger.\nAttach the syringe to the end of the feeding tube. Then push on the plunger to give your medication.\nFlush the tube with 30cc of water after giving your medication.\n\nPreventing a Clogged Feeding Tube\n\nTo prevent a clogged feeding tube, flush your tube with water each time after giving a feeding or medication.\nIf your feeding tube becomes clogged, you can use these methods:\nPlace the syringe into your feeding tube, and pull back on the plunger.\nFlush your tube with warm tap water.\nIf you cannot unclog your tube, call your doctor. It is important not to miss your prescribed liquid food and water.\n\nCaring for Your Stoma Site\nUse an outward circular motion to clean around the stoma site.\nWhile the stoma site heals, clean around the site daily.\nFollow these steps to care for you stoma site.\n1. Choose any of these products and moisten it with warm, soapy water:\n\nCotton-tip applicator or swab\nClean, soft washcloth\nGauze square\n\n2. Cleanse the stoma site using outward circles around the stoma.\n3. After cleaning, rinse the area around the stoma with water and any of the products listed above.\n4. Allow skin to dry.\n\nApply antibiotic ointment if your doctor says you may.\nObserve your stoma site daily for redness, pain, swelling, or unusual drainage around the tube. If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor.\n\nWhen to Call the Doctor\nThe information above should not replace discussions with your doctors, nurses, or dietitian.\nCall your doctor if you:\n\nHave choking or problems breathing during a feeding. Stop the feeding and call right away.\nCan’t unclog your tube.\nCan’t confirm that the tube is in your stomach.\nHave persistent diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or dehydration.\nHave redness, pain, swelling, or unusual drainage at the stoma site.