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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 due to lack of water, lack of fiber in the formula, or inactivity. 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 feedings
  • No fiber, or not enough fiber, 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 fiber.
  • If it is permitted, and you are able, increase your physical activity.
  • Ask your healthcare professional to review your medications to see if any may cause constipation.
Diarrhea
Diarrhea—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 too cold
  • Formula may be spoiled or contaminated by bacteria
  • No fiber, or not enough fiber, in your formula
  • Intolerance to the formula
Suggested solutions:
  • Ask your healthcare professional to review your medications.
  • Contact your healthcare professional 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.
  • Do not use formula that has been opened and left at room temperature for longer than the manufacturer’s recommendation or that has been opened and left in the refrigerator for longer than 48 hours.
  • Check with your healthcare professional about changing to a formula that contains fiber.
  • Check with your healthcare professional to see if you should change to a special formula that contains ingredients that are easier to digest and absorb.
  • Try to relax during the 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 diarrhea
  • Prolonged fever
  • Wound is draining large amounts of fluid
  • Perspiring heavily
Suggested solutions:
  • Take the recommended amount of water every day before and after your feedings.
  • If you are experiencing fever, diarrhea, 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 feedings
  • Feeding rate is too high
  • Fluid volume is too high due to diluted formula
Suggested solutions:
  • Consult with your healthcare professional to determine if you should decrease the amount of water you take before or after feedings.
  • Use the prescribed volume and strength of the feeding 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 less volume.
Stomach Upset
Feeling queasy or have an upset stomach during or after your tube feeding. Probable causes:
  • Formula is being fed too fast
  • Formula is too cold
  • Lying flat while taking the feeding
  • Exercising or engaging in too much activity right after a 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 a 30 degree angle (about the height of two pillows) during the feeding and for 30 to 60 minutes after the feeding to help prevent nausea or reflux.
  • If directed by your healthcare professional, check stomach residual before re-starting the next feeding.
  • Do not start a feeding if the residual exceeds the volume recommended by your healthcare professional. Excessive residual should be reported to your healthcare provider.
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
  • You forgot to unclamp your connector
Suggested solutions:
  • Check for kinks or bends in your feeding tube.
  • Flush your tube before and after each feeding.
  • Dissolve medications in warm water before administering through your feeding tube.
  • Flush your tube with warm water before and after administering your medications.
  • 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 you unclamped your tubing.

Contact a Dietitian

Ask a Dietitian Program
To support patients’ transition from hospital to home, Nestlé Health Science Registered Dietitians are available to provide information regarding the appropriate use of Nestlé Health Science tube feeding formulas and delivery devices, including:

  • Formula features and benefits
  • Nutrient content and ingredients
  • Administration and troubleshooting
  • Formula packaging and storage

Call 1-800-706-0554 for product questions or to schedule an appointment with a Nestlé Health Science Registered Dietitian. Dietitians are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST to talk with homecare providers, patients, and caregivers.

OWN YOUR FEEDING TUBE: Learn how to use and live with your feeding tube in this five-part video series with Gunnar Esiason.

1. The First Day Home with Your Feeding Tube.
In this "How-To" video, you wil see how you can use your feeding tube in different... MORE>
2. What Can I Expect from My Feeding Tube?
The video will show you a few lifestyle changes you may experience after you have had... MORE>
3. Normalcy with the Feeding Tube.
In this video, you will see how those who require a feeding tube are still able to maintain a... MORE>
The content on this website is for educational purposes only and should not be considered to be medical advice.
It is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.
Please consult your healthcare team with any questions about your home tube-feeding plan.