Important Feeding Tube Care Tips

Many people with cystic fibrosis have either a G-tube, J-tube, or GJ-tube, a tube in their abdomen, to help them maintain adequate nutrition. Getting adjusted to your feeding tube can take time, so it's important to make sure you are prepared. 

If you have a feeding tube or take care of someone with a feeding tube, there are several things you should know that will help keep things running smoothly.

A mom cleaning her daughter's feeding tube
Huntstock / Getty Images

Tips for Taking Care of Your Feeding Tube

Keep the insertion site clean and dry.  Clean the area around the tube with plain soap and water at least once a day, more often if there is any drainage or formula oozing onto the skin. After cleaning, dry the area with a soft, clean cloth to prevent skin irritation from moisture.

Check the site every day for signs of infection. Report any unexplained fever, pain, swelling, redness, pus, or any other drainage from your feeding tube site to your healthcare provider immediately.

Flush the tube. It is important to flush the tube with water after each feeding so that the tube doesn’t get clogged.

Check the water in the balloon. At least once a week, test the balloon to make sure it still has enough water to keep the tube in place.

Act quickly if the tube comes out. Cover the insertion site with a clean, dry cloth and get to your healthcare provider or the emergency room right away. Without a tube to keep it open, the hole will close within a few hours. If this happens, you will need to have surgery to replace the tube.


Put table foods in the tube. Feeding tubes are not designed for table foods, even if they’re pureed. Putting table food in a feeding tube can cause the tube to become clogged. Make sure you use only the food prescribed by a healthcare provider or nutritional specialist. 

Force anything through the tube. If the tube becomes clogged, try attaching a syringe with warm water and gently pull back and push on the plunger repeatedly to see if you can dislodge the clog. If that doesn’t work, you can try the same technique using warm water and the contents of an enzyme capsule.

Give bolus feedings through a J-tube or GJ-tube. Both of these tubes bypass the stomach and deliver food directly to the small intestine. The small intestine cannot tolerate large quantities of food all at once. Feedings through J-tubes and GJ-tubes must be given slowly over time.

Following these tips, along with your healthcare provider's advice, can help minimize your risks of infection or injury. These tips are primarily for people with a J-tube, G-tube, or GJ-tube. If you have an NG-tube, a tube that runs from your nose down into your stomach, your care routine may differ a bit. 

By Lori Alma
Lori Alma, RN, is a registered nurse and cystic fibrosis expert who assists families in a Florida Department of Health program for special needs children.