An NG tube feeding, also called a nasogastric tube, is a tube passed through the nose all the way down the back of the throat, through the esophagus to the stomach.
It is often used for tube feedings, but can also be used for medications. An NG tube can be used for all feedings or to give your child an extra boost after meals to give him a few more calories. It is a flexible tube made of plastic and comes in different sizes depending on the size of the child or adult using it. An NG tube is utilized as a temporary measure when your child will not or cannot eat enough to gain weight. The feeding tube can be very helpful in giving your child the extra boost they need to get over the hump and jump start weight gain.
Many parents and caregivers are trained to insert the NG tube on their own so that if your child pulls it out a hospital visit is not necessary. Some tubes need to be changed every 5 to 7 days while others can stay in 4 to 6 weeks. It is important to care for the tube properly and to take care of your child’s skin and the nostrils to prevent irritation and infection.
One very important thing to understand is an NG tube feeding is not a permanent solution. Although they can be very helpful in the interim while you are deciding whether or not your child needs a G-tube, an NG tube should not be used longer than 3 months. An NG tube carries a high risk of infection along with the daily skin irritation and blockage of the nostril which the NG tube is in.
Many parents who have had children try the NG tube and now have G-tube prefer the G-tube for the ease of use, safety, and look. Although it requires surgery and is an invasive procedure, the parents I’ve spoken to unanimously say the G tube is much easier to care for then the NG tube. On top of this they like that their child does not look sick wherever they go, because the NG tube inevitably attracts stares and questions, no matter how rude and insensitive that is.
If your child has a feeding issue they are trying to overcome, an NG tube feeding is not always the best because oftentimes the tube irritates the throat and makes the child more averse to food.
Although this article may sound very negative towards the NG tube feeding, it is certainly worth thinking about if your child is not eating enough to gain weight and you are not yet ready to have a G tube placed. Nasogastric tubes are great to provide supplemental feeding or when you know it will be a very short term solution. If your child is not gaining weight or gets dehydrated frequently, an NG tube can be an important part in keeping your child’s health the best it can be.