The nasogastric tube is a tube that is inserted through the nose to the stomach, going through the esophagus. It is usually made of plastic or silicone. It is also called a gastric feeding tube.
Is very useful. It serves to feed people who have problems chewing or swallowing food. It is also used to remove stomach contents or administer certain medications.
In this article we explain its main uses, its care and possible complications.
What is the nasogastric tube used for?
As we mentioned, the probe allows feeding a person who has difficulty swallowing or chewing food. It directs the food directly to the stomach and, therefore, does not serve to digest it, only to facilitate its arrival in this organ.
It is usually used in patients with metabolic and gastrointestinal disorders. In the same way, it is used in certain mental illnesses that hinder normal feeding; also in severe cases of malnutrition or prematurity.
On the other hand, The nasogastric tube serves to drain stomach contents. It is a process that occurs when there is an obstruction along the digestive tract. Also, even in situations of poisoning or to prepare a patient for anesthesia.
Further, other substances can be administered through it, such as certain medications. It should always be indicated by a doctor. In fact, only doctors or nurses can place it. Even so, patients who carry it must provide certain care and maintenance.
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How is the nasogastric tube taken care of?
Most patients usually spend time with the probe. Thus, it is essential to know how to take care of herto. First of all, keep the external part clean. For this you can use a gauze moistened with warm water and soap. Afterwards, it must be clarified and dried.
The ideal is to introduce a little water after each meal or medication; It is usually enough to put between 5 and 10 ml. In the same way, check that the probe is in the proper position. To do this, we must look at the marks that are drawn on it.
If the probe becomes blocked, it must be replaced. In some situations, there is a family member trained to do so. However, it is advisable to call a doctor or nurse. When nothing is being administered, the probe connector must be closed.
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When using a nasogastric tube, we must pay attention to the nose and mouth. If possible, it is best to rotate the probe from time to time and change the area where it contacts the nose to avoid irritation. If it can not be done daily, it is mandatory to do it when it is dirty or when the band-aid does not stick enough.
We must clean the nostrils every day. For this, we can use moistened cotton swabs. Equally, it is necessary to continue taking care of the oral hygiene. Even if you are not chewing, you should continue brushing your teeth and your tongue, at least twice a day.
On the other hand, it is recommended Apply moisturizer on the area of the nose and lips since the skin of the face is sensitive. The probe usually produces some irritation and the cream can reduce it.
What are the most frequent complications?
Although the nasogastric tube is a very useful device, it has certain complications. First, It can cause nose injuries. As we have already said, the best way to avoid this is to change the position probe. In addition, we must disinfect and wash the area. If the injury is important, you can change the nasal hole.
When an obstruction occurs, you can try to solve introducing warm water by the probe. In the event that the obstruction remains, a doctor should be notified. However, most obstructions can be avoided if a little water is introduced after each feeding.
Another frequent complication is that the probe goes outside. This can happen accidentally or voluntarily, since some patients find it annoying. Whatever it is, you have to replace it, with the help of someone specialized.
Nausea and vomiting are also common. Especially when the patient is not well placed. To avoid this, you have to try to lie down with an inclination of 45º. The food must also be avoided too quickly.
The nasogastric tube is a widely used instrument. Although you must follow medical indications, it is important to know how to care for and maintain it. In case of any doubt or complication, It is important to see a specialist.