A nasogastric tube (NG tube) is a special tube that carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose. It can be used for all feedings or for giving a person extra calories.
It is important to take good care of the feeding bag and tubing so that they work properly. It is also important to take good care of the skin around the nostrils so that it does not get irritated.
If your child has an NG tube, try to keep your child from touching or pulling on the tube.
Follow any specific instructions your nurse gives you. Use the information below as a reminder or what to do.
Flushing the Tube
Flushing the tube will help release any formula stuck to the inside of the tube. Flush the tube after each feeding, or as often as your nurse recommends.
First, wash your hands well with soap and water.
After the feeding is finished, add warm water to the feeding syringe and let it flow by gravity.
If the water does not go through, try changing positions a bit or attach the plunger to the syringe, and gently push the plunger part-way. DO NOT press all the way down or press fast.
Remove the syringe.
Close the NG tube cap.
Taking Care of the Skin
Follow these general guidelines:
Clean the skin around the tube with warm water and a clean washcloth after each feeding. Remove any crust or secretions in the nose.
When removing a bandage or dressing from the nose, loosen it first with a bit of mineral oil or other lubricant. Then gently remove the bandage or dressing. Afterward, wash the mineral oil off the nose.
If you notice redness or irritation, try putting the tube in the other nostril.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your child's health care provider if you notice:
There is redness, swelling and irritation in both nostrils
The tube keeps getting clogged and you are unable to unclog it with water
The tube falls out
Kowalski MT, Rosdahl CB. Diet therapy and special diets. In: Kowalski MT, Rosdahl CB. Textbook of Basic Nursing. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2011:chap 32.
Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.