GusGear Logo
March 5, 2024

Spotlight on Feeding Tubes: How LOCK 3000 Makes a Difference

Even though over 400,000 Americans have them, feeding tubes are often misunderstood. This lack of awareness can lead to misconceptions and harmful stigmas. For instance, while feeding tubes come with certain risks, complications, and challenges, they also have the power to increase energy, prevent unintended weight loss, and allow those who cannot meet their nutrition needs with food alone to thrive. In many cases, feeding tubes significantly improve people’s quality of life by providing life-saving nutrition, hydration, and medication.

At Gus Gear, our hope is that by facilitating and participating in open conversations about feeding tubes, we can normalize their use, dispel harmful myths, and reduce fear and stigma. Whether you are coming to this guide as someone who uses a feeding tube, a healthcare provider, caregiver, or curious reader, this is a place for shared learning.

Why Use a Feeding Tube?

As healthcare continues to evolve, it's essential to recognize and appreciate the profound impact that enteral nutrition has on the lives of countless individuals worldwide.

Here are several reasons for using a feeding tube across medical contexts: 

  • Nutritional Support: Feeding tubes are employed to provide essential nutrients to individuals who are unable to eat or drink orally due to conditions such as dysphagia, neurological disorders, or severe illnesses.
    • Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing, often caused by neurological disorders (such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis), structural abnormalities in the throat or esophagus, or certain cancers, can make it unsafe or impossible to eat or drink normally.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as severe inflammatory bowel disease, obstruction, or gastroparesis (delayed emptying of the stomach), may require bypassing the affected area of the digestive tract using feeding tubes to ensure adequate nutrition.
  • Facilitating Healing: In cases of surgery, trauma, or critical illness, the body's nutritional needs may increase significantly. Feeding tubes ensure that patients receive adequate nutrition to support the healing process and prevent complications.
  • Medication Administration: Feeding tubes can also serve as a conduit for administering medications, particularly in patients who are unable to swallow pills or liquids.
  • End-of-Life Care: In palliative or hospice care settings, individuals with terminal illnesses may lose their ability to eat or drink as their condition progresses. Feeding tubes may be used to provide comfort and maintain hydration and nutrition during this time.
  • Malnutrition or Inadequate Oral Intake: In cases where individuals are unable to consume enough food orally to meet their nutritional needs, such as in severe anorexia nervosa or advanced age-related frailty, feeding tubes can be employed to supplement or replace oral intake.

Different Types of Feeding Tubes

There are several different kinds of feeding tubes: 

Temporary Feeding Tubes

The following tubes are usually temporary solutions, often for illness or injury: 

  • Nasogastric tube (NG): This type of feeding tube goes through the nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach
  • Nasoenteric tube (NE): Similar to NG, but goes through the esophagus and stomach, and delivers nutrition into the intestine.
  • Orogastric tube (OG): Similar to the NG, but goes through the mouth.

Long-term Feeding Tubes

The following tubes are surgically placed and used long-term for enteral nutrition: 

  • Gastronomy tube (G-tube): Surgically or endoscopically placed in the abdomen, G-tubes feed into the stomach.
  • Jejunostomy (J-tube): J-tubes are inserted and fed into the small intestine.
  • Gastrojejunal tube (GJ): This goes into both the stomach and small intestine. The G portion allows for drainage or gas relief through the stomach, while nutrition is delivered through the J-tube.
  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG): This technique requires a gastroenterologist to place a G-tube through a surgical hole in the stomach using an endoscope. An attached camera allows for accurate placement.
  • Dangler: Danglers are long G, J, or GJ tubes with a permanently attached external feeding port. These types of tubes are anchored in the stomach or intestines with a retention device.
  • Low profile or “Button:” Low profile G, J, and GJ tubes lie flush against the skin. They are connected to an extension set — a short tube that can be removed between feedings — to deliver nutrition, fluids, and medication.

How Feedings Are Administered

  • Bolus: Larger volumes of formula or blended food are usually delivered through a large syringe or direct feeding container into the tube. This requires the patient to be at a 45-degree angle or upright for at least an hour post-feeding. Bolus feeding can also be administered by a pump.
  • Gravity feed: Formula or blended food is administered from a bag that’s hooked up on a pole above the patient, allowing the fluid to flow slowly into the feeding tube.
  • Continuous feed: In this case, a pump delivers constant formula for a period of time. A registered dietitian or doctor recommends pump settings based on calorie and fluid needs. It requires the patient to stay at or above a 45-degree angle while formula is given, and for at least an hour post feeding.

What Can Be Administered via Feeding Tube?

Here are types of liquid that can be administered through a feeding tube: 

  • Formula
  • Blended foods
  • Breastmilk
  • Clear liquids
  • Juice 
  • Gatorade
  • Most medications (when necessary crushed up and blended with water)
  • Enzyme treatments
  • Electrolyte replacement solution (under medical supervision)

Did you know feeding tubes have uses beyond enteral feeding and providing fluids?

  • Venting: This process releases painful gas bubbles and swallowed air, reducing stomach distension and bloating
  • Removing undigested food: If undigested food sits in the stomach, it can cause nausea, stomach pain, bloating, or vomiting. This can be drained by attaching a bag to the feeding tube.

Feeding Tubes Are Lifelines

Whether someone’s feeding tube provides essential nutrients, facilitates healing after surgery or trauma, and/or serves as a conduit for medication, it is a lifeline. As healthcare continues to evolve, it's essential to recognize and appreciate the profound impact that enteral nutrition has on the lives of countless individuals worldwide.

While people should feel comfortable with their feeding tube and the support it provides, there are still preventable risks, including accidental pulls and dislodgement. Break free from those limitations and live as active a life as possible with Gus Gear’s LOCK 3000, which locks down the tube and eliminates the need for extra adhesives.

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram Skip to content