I can eat while I sleep, what is your superpower?

All people need food to live. Sometimes a person cannot eat enough food to keep up with what his/her body needs when it is suffering from an illness. When this occurs, nutrition may be supplied in a different way. One such method is enteral nutrition or tube feeding.

Why do I need a feeding tube?

Tube feeding can be a great way to get the calories and nutrients that you need to grow and maintain a healthy weight. Better nutritional status in CF is associated with improved pulmonary function and the ability to fight infections.

But why?

There comes a point for some people who live with CF, where their body needs more nutrition than they are able to take in by eating alone. And often they feel tired, out of breath and have a poor appetite. This would be like running a marathon every day, without eating or drinking enough to help the body go the distance.

What are my options when it comes to feeding tubes?

Tube feeding can be given through different types of tubes. One type of tube can be placed through the nose into the stomach; this is called a nasogastric tube or NGT (these tubes stay in for short periods of time and may be inserted and removed daily). Another tube can be placed directly through the skin into the stomach and is called a gastrostomy or a PEG/G-tube/micckey (these tubes stay in for longer periods of time).

How will the feeds work?

Most people choose to have their feeds running at night-time, when they are asleep. A registered dietitian will help you decide on a feeding regimen; what kind of product and how much to give.

Can I still eat if I have the tube?

Of course you can.

Do I need to take Creon® with the feeds?

The Enteral nutrition or tube feeds prescribed for night feeds are prescribed by a registered dietitian. These feeds are semi-elemental; this means you don’t need the enzymes to break the nutrients down for absorption like when you eat food.

You will however need to take your pancreatic enzymes when you eat food while the feeds are running.

Can the feeding tube be removed?

The removal of the feeding tube is an easy procedure and healing occurs rapidly where the incision was.

If you or your loved one is struggling to maintain your weight, feel overwhelmed by how much is expected of you to eat/drink or struggle with poor appetite and fatigue, contact your physician and ask for a consultation with a dietitian that works with people living with CF. A feeding tube may relief the pressure of trying to keep up with nourishing your body at the rate that it is using nutrients.

By Lynette Cilliers. RD. Groote Schuur Hospital.


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