Before giving your child any medicines through the feeding tube, make sure you know exactly what type of tube it is. Ask your child’s doctor and read “Do You Know… Types of tubes and sutures.” Types of feeding tubes include:
- Mushroom tubes – These are temporary tubes.
- Conventional gastrostomy tubes (G-tubes) – G-tubes have 3 ports (openings): one (1) for feedings, another for medicines, and a third that goes to the balloon that holds the tube steady.
- Gastrojejunal tubes (GJ-tubes) – GJ-tubes have 3 ports: one (1) goes to the stomach, another to the intestine, and a third to the balloon that holds the tube steady.
- Low profile tube (button) – Buttons might have one (1) port that goes to the stomach (gastric button) or 2 ports that go to the stomach and intestine (gastrojejunal button). Either tube will also have one (1) port that goes to the balloon that holds the tube steady.
Follow the directions of your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about giving the medicine.
- Pill crusher (if needed)
- Medicine cup(s) (if needed)
- Syringe (at least a 35 ml size) with correct tip
- Button extension set (if needed)
Preparing the medicine(s)
- Use the liquid form of each medicine whenever possible.
- If the medicine is a pill, crush it to a fine powder using the pill crusher. If the medicine is in capsules, open the right number of capsules. Pour the powder from the pills or powder from the capsule(s) into a small amount of water and let it dissolve.
- Pills that are in coated tablets or extended release tablets should not be crushed and put into feeding tubes. Do not open a capsule and dissolve medicine until you check with the doctor, pharmacist, or nurse.
- Measure each medicine into a separate cup or add it to a separate syringe. Do not mix any of the medicine(s) with formula or another medicine.
- Some medicines are too thick to give through a feeding tube safely. If the medicine looks thick, add some water until it is a thin, watery liquid.
- If your child has medicines that must be taken on an empty stomach and he is getting continuous feedings, stop the feeding at least 30 minutes before giving the medicine(s). Wait 30 minutes after giving the medicine to start feedings again.
Giving the medicine(s)
- If your child is getting feedings, stop the feedings.
- If your child has a button type tube, attach the extension tubing after priming it with water.
- Flush by gravity for feeding tubes. Holding the syringe above your child’s stomach will allow it to flow into the tube by itself. Never use the plunger of the syringe to force the water into the tube.
- Remove the plunger from the end of the syringe. Attach the syringe to the end of the tube or extension tubing.
- Unclamp the feeding tube.
- Flush the tube with about _____ml of water.
- Most medicines should be given in the gastric port (G-port). This is the port that goes to your child’s stomach. Ask the pharmacist or nurse if you have questions about which port the medicine should go into.
- Give the medicine using the gravity method.
- If you are giving more than one (1) medicine, give each medicine by itself. Give a small amount of water through the feeding tube after each medicine. If the medicine will not go down by gravity, make sure your child is calm. If your child is crying, medicines might not go in. If your child is calm and the medicine will not go in, try using the plunger of the syringe to push the medicine gently into the feeding tube. If it will not go in with gentle pressure, call the St. Jude team.
- After you give all the medicine(s), flush the tube by gravity with ____ml of water.
- Clamp the tube or start the feedings again (if your child is getting continuous feedings).
- If your child has a button type tube, disconnect the extension tubing.
If you have questions about how to give medicines through your child’s feeding tube, please talk to your clinical nurse specialist, nurse, dietitian, or pharmacist.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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