Ok, I am totally late on this...sorry.
Feeding Tube Awareness Day 2: Why Do People Get Feeding Tubes?
In TV shows and of course the infamous case of Terri Schiavo (which spurred the need for "advance directives), most of what is portrayed is that feeding tubes are an intervention for end-of-life situations.
Today I am here to tell you that this is not true. Not in the least. Feeding tubes are life SAVING interventions when a person cannot or will not take food in orally (by mouth). For instance, those who know me -- personally or online -- know that I am tube fed. In fact, I have TWO tubes (that's a topic for another day...). Am I dying? No. I have a condition called Gastroparesis, which literally translates into "a condition of stomach paralysis". Not EVERYONE with GP needs a feeding tube, but in my case, my results go on to say "secondary to complete gastric paralysis". This makes it DANGEROUS for me to have food, or even drinks as it turns out without decompression.
Feeding tubes are used for sole source (no outside food and/or beverages) or supplemental (intermittent feeds and food and/or drinks allowed on the side)
To tie this off, here are some following conditions where tube feeding is indicated and can be useful
Failure To Thrive (FTT --where the child or adult simply cannot take in enough calories a day and are underweight to the point where supplemental nutrition is necessary)
Cystic Fibrosis (CF -- usually used for supplemental feedings. CF patients require a VERY LARGE number of calories due to a faulty pancreas that ends up wasting a good number of the calories eaten by the child or adult)
Dysphagia (where the child or adult cannot swallow safely and are at risk for aspirating, or breathing thin liquids such as water or soups into the lungs, which can cause aspiration pneumonia. Sometimes a feeding tube placed in this situation is just for supplemental hydration, as placing a central line, or long term IV line is a last resort)
Autism Spectrum Disorders (this can be due to a number of things ranging from sensory related issues or behavioral issues. Whether "behavioral" or not, if you are dealing with a non verbal child, nutrition still must be given. It would be my request since I cannot demand things of other person's business to NEVER JUDGE A PARENT WHO HAS ELECTED TO TUBE FEED A CHILD WITH AN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER. These are difficult enough disorders without your crass input. Thanks.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN -- DO NOT START WITH ME ON THIS. Tube feeding does NOT feed into the illness as other may judge it so. In some cases, food and calories by oral route are such an aversion that it is IMPOSSIBLE to eat. Also, in severe cases where one has been so starved for so long, a process called hypermetabolism kicks in. Sometimes in these cases, it is NOT POSSIBLE to take in enough calories orally, so supplemental feeding is necessary.
There are other conditions, this is not an exhaustive list.
Tomorrow I will be addressing: What types of feeding tubes are out there? Also, how does tube or IV feeding affect a person's lifestyle.