Updated: Jan 10
When a person cannot eat enough or any food at all because of an illness, decreased appetite, swallowing issues, or they had a surgery that makes eating hard; it becomes important to look into providing them nutrition another way.
So the next question is, if someone can’t eat, how do they get any nutrition into them????
Enteral Nutrition or "Tube Feeding"
Who can be on feeds?
Anyone can receive tube feeding such as infants, children, and adults. Usually, in the hospital tube feeding is initiated for short-term circumstances until someone can eat enough by the mouth. However, you can live a fulfilling life if you need to be on feeds for a longer term.
Where does this tube go?
Oh, tubes can go in many areas! There are nasogastric/nasoenteral feeding tubes that go through your nose and into the stomach or small intestine. There there are other tubes that go right through the skin into the stomach or small intestine. We call this gastrostomy or jejunostomy tubes depending on where it ends up. These 3 types of tubes are just a few.
Is it fake food?
It is a special liquid formula which contains carbohydrates, fat, protein, and vitamin and minerals. Consider it as a commercial formula.
I must point out though that there are more people looking into Blenderized Tube Feeding (BTF). If you're interested in receiving an introduction on BTF, click this link: Blenderized Tube Feeding: Introduction
So can't you just take any feed and as much as you want?
No. If you have ever met a clinical dietitian, if there’s one item that is always on them it’s a calculator. Or their phone, because you know technology. Now why do dietitians calculate?
Everyone has different nutritional requirements based on their needs and condition. For instance, a person who has received burns vs. a person who had a stroke and is recovering both have different needs.
There are so many feeds which provide different calories, protein, fat, water, and vitamins and minerals.
So when your clinical dietitian has done a thorough assessment, come up with a nutritional diagnosis, and is ready to implement a plan which works best for you. They have to calculate…
Now depending on where you work there are house feeds that you usually your go to’s, and experienced dietitians can calculate feeds like it is nothing. No, seriously. One of my favourite preceptors just knew if the numbers made sense or not.
Tube feeding is like with any other nutritional recommendation given, it changes. Dietitians are always monitoring and re-evaluating to make sure that the feed matches your needs.
Usually, you see me discussing and posting about community health, but I also really love acute care and nutrition support. My dream job would go along the lines of “Community Health Nutrition Support Dietitian” or something close to it.
What Is Enteral Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.nutritioncare.org/About_Clinical_Nutrition/What_is_Enteral_Nutrition/