Sometimes, it may be necessary for patients to have some form of alternative feeding to give them their food and drinks. There are many different reasons why a person may need a feeding tube. One reason can be if they have a difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and are unable to eat and drink safely, that is, without food and drink 'going down the wrong way' or aspirating. Others may find that swallowing is too tiring and are unable to eat or drink enough for what their body needs. Sometimes, alternative feeding is needed during treatment for some types of head and neck cancer, but can be removed at a later date if it is no longer necessary.
The decision for whether or not alternative feeding is appropriate will be made by your Doctor, with advice given by a Speech and Language Therapist, Dietitian (see Dietetics Dept), and various other Nutrition Support Specialists. These decisions will be discussed and made with you and your family, where possible.
Commonly used feeding tubes include:
- Nasogastric (NG)
- Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG)
- Radiologically Inserted Gastrostomy (RIG)
The Dietitian will tailor the feed that is given via the tube so the person will receive all the nutrition and hydration their body requires. Sometimes tube feeding may be a temporary measure but in some cases it will be permanent.
Where appropriate, the Speech and Language Therapist will continue to assess a person's swallow to see if they can have any food or drink by mouth safely alongside the tube feeding.