Enteral nutrition is a method of feeding that substitutes or supplements conventional feeding, providing the body with energy and strength. Through its nutrients similar to those found in food, it assists in patient recovery and prevents weight loss.
In addition to enteral nutrition through a tube, the patient can also receive enteral nutrition feeding orally, as prescribed by a health professional. Oral nutrition can supplement the diet of a patient who is taking inadequate food and fluid to meet their requirements.
The difference between conventional feeding and enteral feeding is in the digestion stages. In the case of enteral feeding, food is already mushed, ready to be digested, facilitating the patient’s needed day to day nutrition intake.
It’s not always easy to understand all precautions required for enteral nutrition. It’s natural to have questions or to need help once at home.
It is important to follow the guidelines of the patient’s health professional with regard to administration times, the amount of formula for each meal, most suggested formula, and amount of water per day needed by the patient.
What you will need:
After each meal, inject a filtered water syringe, at room temperature, to remove any remaining residue, avoiding clogging of the tube.
Preferably use liquid medication, if tablets are needed, knead the medication until a fine powder is produced and dissolve it in water. With the help of a syringe, apply the medication, slowly, into the tube. Before and after administration, use a syringe with water for cleaning.
Caution: not all tablets may be kneaded. Always seek guidance from the health professional.
Formulas are like food, so they should be handled and stored correctly, as recommended below:
If you notice differences in tube function, it may be bent, the formula may be dry or some medication may be blocking the passage. Apply a syringe with water to try to unblock it. If the tube remains blocked, consult your health care professional for advice.
To end all doubts and speculation, know what the myths and the truths are.
Enteral feeding can be done at home: it is called nutritional home therapy. With assistance from the health team, the patient or caregiver can prepare and administer enteral formulas at home.
The tube is only used when the patient is unable to feed orally. During this period, enteral nutrition is essential to assist in the recovery and maintenance of the nutritional state of the patient, improving their quality of life and well-being.
Yes, the enteral diet is equal to an ordinary diet; the patient will ingest the recommended amount given by the health professional and, with it, the patient will feel full. If the patient complains of hunger or does not want to eat at certain meal times, talk to the health team for possible changes.
The tube is a thin, malleable tube that does not hurt or cause the patient pain. On the day the tube is fitted, the patient may feel mild discomfort but, in normal situations, they will not feel pain.
The amount and timing should be prescribed by the health professional monitoring the patient. Each patient is unique and has specific needs, so only the health professional can recommend the ideal amount of food intake.
A patient on an enteral diet should have the same water intake as someone on a normal diet. Water will contribute to the patient’s hydration. Talk to your health professional about how much water the patient should ingest in a day.
There are several types of formula: with fiber, with more calories or more protein. There are also oral supplements that can supplement the formula. A professional will be able to indicate the best option.
Enteral nutrition formulas are very different from milk as they are complete and can be used as the sole source of food, while milk is only one kind of food that makes up a diet.
Do not dilute a ready-to-consume formula. Diluting the formula may lead to a decrease in the nutrients present in it, harming the patient. Only the powdered formula should have water added in its preparation.
During administration of the formula, the patient should be sitting or tilted, so that the liquid does not go to the lungs, causing aspiration and discomfort.
Putting any food through the tube that has not been prescribed by the health professional is not recommended. During administration of the formula via the tube, the patient will not taste the food being ingested, as the tube goes straight into the stomach or intestine.
Heating the enteral diet formula is not recommended so that its vitamins and minerals are not lost. The formula should be administered at room temperature. If it is stored in the refrigerator, it should be removed about 30 minutes before administration until it reaches room temperature.
It is recommended that, before and after each administration of food or drugs, the tube is flushed with a syringe filled with water. This procedure prevents the tube from being blocked.
To unblock the tube, you should slowly inject filtered or boiled water through a syringe. The water should be injected slowly so that there is no rupture of the tube or discomfort to the patient. Do not use soda, warm water, or other liquids to unblock the tube. This can cause the patient discomfort and bring unwanted reactions.
Some punctual problems may occur during enteral feeding. Learn what you can do to avoid these situations:
The content of this site is for informational purposes only. Always consult a healthcare professional about any question regarding your home enteral nutrition planning.