TUBE TIPS: Coming home with a NG or NJ feeding tube

By March 17, 2020 Newsletter

Both the nasogastric (NG) tube and the nasojejunal (NJ) tube are short-term tubes. There are some cases where you may be sent home with one.  If that happens, here’s what you should know:

NG and NJ feeding tubes are different from each other

  • The NG tube passes down the nose and into the stomach. This tube can be replaced at home, and you will likely be taught how before you leave the hospital.
  • The NJ tube passes down the nose and into the small bowel. This tube cannot be replaced at home. You’ll need to visit your care provider if it becomes dislodged or a new one is needed.

These feeding tubes are very safe and used by millions of people. But it’s okay if you’re feeling nervous about what you’ll do once you come home with one of these tubes.

Be sure to talk with your health care team about any questions or concerns. And keep these tips in mind to help you feel more at ease.

Getting started at home

The first thing to do when you get home is find a place to store your supplies. Make sure they’re out of reach if you have any small children or pets at home. If a feeding pump is needed, keep the tubing off the floor so it doesn’t cause anyone to trip. You’ll also want to have a clean space where you can prepare your nutrition.

Other tips to keep in mind:

  • Check your notes and discharge information often as you get started.
  • Remember what you’ve learned about urgent or emergency situations and have your care team’s contact information nearby.
  • It’s good practice to check the tube several times a day to make sure it hasn’t moved. This could happen if you throw up, the tube snags on something or if it’s pulled out by accident. Be especially mindful of this if the tube user is a small child.
  • For NG tubes only: If you ever have any doubts about where the tube is placed, pull it out and replace it.
  • For NJ tubes: If you’re worried about where the tube is placed, contact your care team right away.
  • Even if you’re not eating or taking medicine orally, keep in mind oral care is still a must-do. Brush your teeth or, for infants, use infant oral swabs daily.

It will take time — but you’ll get the hang of it!

The first day at home after any big change is going to be an adjustment. Before long, you’ll know what to do and how to do it. Then you’ll have a new routine that’s second nature to you.