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Taking Medication Through a Feeding Tube

You are going home with a feeding tube in place. If you normally take any medications by mouth, you will need to take them through your feeding tube. You can make this easier by calling your pharmacist to see whether any of your medications are available in liquid form. If they are, ask that your prescriptions be filled with liquid medications.

You were shown how to care for your type of feeding tube in the hospital. If you did not receive an instruction sheet on caring for your tube, ask for one. This sheet provides general guidelines and steps to follow when taking medication through a feeding tube.

Before you Begin

Remember to:

  • Use liquid medications whenever possible.

  • Tell all your health care providers that you take medications through your tube.

  • Don’t mix medications with feeding formula unless your doctor says it’s okay.

  • Flush your tube before, between, and after giving medications to prevent the tube from getting clogged.

Gather your supplies

Here's what you will need:

  • Measuring cup that is marked with ml or cc (these are the same thing)

  • Measuring spoon or syringe marked with ml or cc

  • 50 ml (cc) or larger syringe

  • Bowl of tap water (2 cups or more)

Taking Your Medication

  • Check the placement of your feeding tube the way you were shown in the hospital.

  • Prepare each medication the way you were shown in the hospital.

  • Take your medications in the following order:

    • Liquid medications first.

    • Medications that need to be dissolved second.

    • Thick medications last.

  • Measure the prescribed amount of liquid medication, or crush pills and dissolve powder in 15 ml (about 1 tablespoon) or more of warm water.

  • Remove the plunger from the 50 ml syringe. Pour 30 ml of warm water into the syringe and flush your tube.

  • Pour the medication into the syringe.  Do not use the syringe plunger to push the medication into the tube.  Let the medication flow in slowly.

  • Be sure to flush your tube with 5 ml (about 1 teaspoon) or more of warm water between all medications.

  • Take each medication by itself. Never mix medications together in the syringe.

  • Flush the tube with 30 ml of warm water after all medications have been given.

  • Wait before restarting your tube feeding. Some medications don’t work when mixed with the feeding formula. Ask your doctor how long you should wait to start feeding after taking medications.

  • Keep your tube clamped in between feedings.

Follow-Up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

 

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Coughing

  • Trouble breathing during feeding, flushing, or giving medication

  • Tube that can’t be unclogged

  • Tube that falls out or difficulty telling if the tube is in your stomach

  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 loose stools

  • Constipation that lasts more than 48 hours

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Bloody or coffee-colored drainage through the tube

  • Red, warm, or tender skin around the tube

  • Sudden increase or decrease in the amount of drainage through the tube

  • Sudden weight loss or gain (more than 2 pounds in 24 hours)

  • Bloated or tight stomach

  • Fever above 101.5°F (38.5°C)

 

 

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