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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Enteral Feeding - Frequently Asked Questions
Home enteral feeding can be routine without issues, but difficulties may arise now and then. Below you can find a brief description of common problems, possible causes and some steps you can take to troubleshoot these issues. Please ensure you talk to your dietitian or doctor about your concerns before making any changes, or if you are experiencing any feeding-related symptoms.
FAQs by Condition

Home tube feeding can be trouble-free. However, it’s not unusual to experience problems now and then. Below you can find a brief description of common problems, possible causes and some steps you can take to troubleshoot problems. You can always talk to your healthcare professional about your concerns.


CONSTIPATION
During tube feeding, bowel movements may be less frequent than usual. Constipation — meaning difficult to pass and very infrequent bowel movements — can sometimes occur on a home tube feeding program.

Probable causes:
  • Not enough water is being given with your feed
  • No fibre, or not enough fibre, in your formula
  • Unable to engage in enough physical activity
  • Medications
Suggested Solutions:
  • Take additional water through your feeding tube as instructed by your healthcare professional
  • Check with your doctor or dietitian to see if you should change to a formula that contains adequate fibre
  • Always check with your doctor before increasing your physical activity
  • Ask your healthcare professional to review your medications to see if any may cause constipation
Diarrhoea
Frequent loose and watery stools can sometimes occur on a home tube feeding program.

Probable causes:
  • Medications
  • Formula is being fed too fast
  • Formula is not being stored as per instructions on the packaging. The packaging should give information about storage conditions if this can affect quality/functionality of the product
  • No fibre, or not enough fibre, in your formula
  • Intolerance to the formula
Suggested solutions:
  • Ask your healthcare professional to review your medications
  • Contact your dietitian for advice on slowing the feeding rate
  • Remove the formula from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to feeding, allowing it to warm to room temperature, before opening
  • Do not use formula that has been opened and left at room temperature or in the refrigerator for longer than the manufacturer’s recommendation
  • Check with your dietitian about changing to a formula that contains fibre
  • Check with your dietitian to see if you should change to a special formula that contains ingredients that are easier to digest and absorb
  • Try to relax during feeding
Dehydration
You may be receiving too little fluid or you are losing too much fluid. Some symptoms of dehydration may include: dry mouth and tongue, sleepiness or tiredness, thirst, decreased urine output, dry skin, headache, constipation, dizziness or lightheadedness.

Probable causes:
  • Not taking enough water
  • Frequent diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • Prolonged fever
  • Wound is draining large amounts of fluid
  • Sweating heavily
Suggested solutions:
  • Follow your dietitian’s guidance on how much water to take before and after your feed
  • If you are experiencing fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, excessive wound drainage, or heavy sweating, consult your healthcare professional regarding a change in your daily water requirements
Fluid Overload/Fluid Retention
You may be receiving too much fluid or you are retaining too much fluid. Some symptoms of fluid overload/fluid retention may include: swelling of the skin, stretched and shiny skin, skin may retain a dimple after being pressed for about ten seconds, puffiness of the ankles, face or eyes, aching body parts, stiff joints, weight gain, raised pulse rate, raised blood pressure, bloated abdomen.

Probable causes:

  • Taking too much water before or after your feed
  • Fluid volume is too high due to diluted formula
  • Medications
Suggested solutions:
  • Consult with your healthcare professional to determine if you should adjust the amount of water you take before or after feeding
  • Use the prescribed volume and strength of the formula. Do not dilute the formula with water unless instructed to by your healthcare professional
  • Ask your healthcare professional to re-evaluate your formula. You may need to switch to a formula that has more calories in a lower volume
  • Ask your healthcare professional to review your medications
Stomach Upset
Feeling queasy or have an upset stomach during or after your feed.

Probable causes:
  • Formula is being fed too fast
  • Formula is too cold
  • Lying flat while feeding
  • Exercising or engaging in too much activity right after feeding
  • Intolerance to the formula
Suggested solutions:
  • Consult your healthcare professional for advice on slowing the rate of feeding.
  • Allow the formula to warm to room temperature before administering.
  • Make sure you are following directions for the prescribed amount of formula and/or correct flow rate.
  • Sit or lie at least at a 45 degree angle (about the height of two pillows) during feeding and for 30-60 minutes after feeding to help prevent nausea or reflux
Clogged Feeding Tube
Formula is not easily flowing through your feeding tube.

Probable causes:

  • Kink or bend in your feeding tube
  • Dried formula or medication is blocking your feeding tube
  • Your connector has not been unclamped
Suggested solutions:
  • Check for kinks or bends in your feeding tube
  • Flush your tube before and after each feeding
  • Consult your healthcare professional to ensure you are administering your medications correctly in order to minimise the risk of blockages
  • If tube is blocked, do not try to remove the blockage yourself. Consult with your healthcare professional for directions on how to proceed
  • Make sure the tubing has been unclamped