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|Tube Feeding Tips: Cleaning and Changing Your Tube|
Tip for Cleaning Your Tube and Changing Your Tube
Even with daily flushing (with a large catheter tipped syringe filled with water), enteral formulas tend to coat the inside of the feeding tube, and begin to look rather nasty. The tip is this. In addition to flushing, I lay the tube against the inside or side of my index finger. Then I take my thumb nail and press it against that finger, squeezing the tube between my index finger and my thumb nail. Next I pull the tube through with my other hand, keeping the pressure on with my thumb nail. This seems to loosen the formula which is adhering to the inside of the tube, and flushing again with water will get it out. It may be necessary to do this a few times, but it works.
Also, it’s a good idea for consumers discuss with their doctors how often they should be changing their feeding tube. I change mine once a week, since even with this cleaning effort, I am not confident that bacteria or whatever would not eventually build up on the inside of the tube.
We’ve received a few questions about last month’s tip from Ann DeBarbieri in which she wrote that she changes her “tube” once a week, since even with a rigorous cleaning effort, she is not confident that bacteria and other substances would not eventually build up on the inside of the tube.
The “tube” Ann refers to is not her G-tube, but rather the tube she uses to access her button. In other words, once a week she changes the tube that delivers the food from the feeding bag in through her button; the button itself, is only changed about once every four to five months.
As Barbara Witt, one of the readers who had questioned the tip explains, changing your G-tube once a week would likely promote granulated tissue or other mechanically-caused skin trauma at the stoma site. Therefore she would not recommend changing your G-tube so frequently. As always, check with your wound care nurse first.