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Who needs enteral nutrition?

Who needs enteral nutrition?

Enteral Nutrition

Who needs enteral nutrition? 

People of any age who cannot meet their nutrition requirements through eating or drinking. 

What is Enteral Nutrition? 

Enteral Nutrition or tube feeding is a method of providing nutrition into the body through liquid formula administered via a tube in the stomach or small intestine. The tube feeding formula consists of macro and micronutrients making it a complete source of nutrition. There are different types of feeding tubes: nasal tubes, gastrostomy tubes, gastrojejunal tubes, and jejunal tubes. A nasal feeding tube is placed either through the nose to the stomach (NG: nasogastric) or to the small intestine (ND: nasoduodenal or NJ: nasojejunal). A gastrostomy tube can be either a PEG/long tube or a low-profile tube placed through the abdominal wall into the stomach. A gastrojejunal tube is placed in the stomach like the gastrostomy tube but the tube continues into the jejunal part of the small intestines. Lastly, a jejunal tube can be either a PEJ/long tube or a low-profile tube placed through the abdominal wall straight into the jejunal part of the small intestine.  

When can you administer enteral nutrition? 

Enteral nutrition can be administered any time day or night. It can be given over 24 hours at a lower rate via a feeding pump or can be given at mealtimes through a syringe or gravity bag. When you administer enteral nutrition is decided by your multidisciplinary team including you, your doctor, and possibly your dietitian.  

Where can you administer enteral nutrition? 

Enteral nutrition can be administered anywhere- the hospital, rehabilitation center, nursing home, at home, the car, etc. Depending on the administration type (continuous or bolus) different equipment may be needed to assist in administering enteral nutrition on the go. If you are using a feeding pump, a backpack or FreeArm may be useful for travel and when you are not able to use an IV pole.  If you are using gravity bags or feeding syringes, the FreeArm may be useful during travel.  

Moog backpacks: 


Why does someone need enteral nutrition? 

There are many different reasons someone may need enteral nutrition. Typically, people require enteral nutrition because they cannot eat enough or any food due to changes in appetite, difficulty swallowing, a chronic disorder/illness (some examples are: cancer, stroke, gastrointestinal dysfunction, failure to thrive) or surgery. 

How to administer enteral nutrition? 

Enteral Nutrition can be administered through Continuous or Bolus feeding. Continuous feeding is delivered using a feeding pump set to a specific amount of formula delivered over a specific amount of time (typically 18 to 24 hours). Bolus feeding is delivered over a shorter period of time (typically less than 30 minutes) and is more like a meal. It can be given through a syringe to push the formula through the feeding tube or through a syringe without the plunger or gravity bag allowing the formula to move through the tube via gravity. Some people use a combination of both and may use the continuous method overnight and the bolus method during the day. 

Enteral Nutrition for you or your loved one can be overwhelming. Know you are not alone and there are many helpful resources like Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation ( and The Oley Foundation ( Many manufacturers of enteral supplies and formula have helpful websites with resources and articles too.  



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