G Tube Tips

Gtube Tips

If your child is getting a G-tube and you want to learn about feeding or giving medications through a G tube, or learn about G-tube complications, here is what you should know. Please comment below and share your experience with us, or give us a feedback about this article. If you think some tips are not included here, please let us know so that we could share them with the rest.

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  1. G Tube in the bathtub: If you have trouble keeping your child’s hands off the tube in the bathtub, they can wear a protective belt which can be removed to wash the tube site, and then replaced for the rest of the bath. You could also try laying a washcloth over the tube or putting toys in the child’s hands so they are distracted.
  2. Swimming with a g tube: Our doc says it’s perfectly fine for a child with a G Tube to use a swimming pool as long as the surgical site is fully healed and there are no problems with open skin around the tube or excessive leaking. Wait at least 6 months after the surgery to go swimming. Avoid lakes and other water that may be dirty.
  3. Placing the tube: Once the initial surgery site is healed, it’s easy to replace a G tube button at home. There are directions inside the box that show you how to do it. The easiest way is to have your doctor’s staff show you once and let you practice so you can do it at home. FYI, if you switch to a new or different type of button or tube, it may have to be placed by a medical provider for the first time to get insurance to pay for it. A G tube should be replaced at least every six months, which is how often most insurance companies will pay for a replacement.
  4. Leaky tube: All G tubes leak a little around the button. If the G tube leaks, consider these possibilities. Did the child push hard to poop or were they laughing or moving a lot? There might be a lot of extra air, food or liquid in the tummy. Try venting the stomach to remove air or stomach contents. If you have a balloon type of G tube, the balloon might not have enough water in it. Using the directions inside the G tube box, suck out the water to check how many milliliters of water are in the tube and compare it to the chart in the box. Add some distilled water if necessary. If the button leaks A LOT and it happens frequently, the tube might be the wrong size. Ask your doctor.
  5. Keeping the tube site dry: There are many different products to protect a G tube button or PEG site. There are “poppers”, which are cloth pads with a slit so you can slide it around the tube. These can help reduce the irritation on the surgical site by reducing granulation. They may keep a child drier than medical gauze and are washable. However some kids may have trouble with infections if the reusable pads don’t get clean enough in the wash. You can also use gauze. Place the gauze around the G tube to absorb leakage and tape the opening closed with medical tape. We like to tape around the four sides of the gauze pad to keep it from getting bunched up. The surgical site should be cleaned and gauze changed at least once a day or when the gauze is wet. Change it more often if the tube site is red or irritated. If it looks infected, go see your doctor.
  6. Ointments: Reduce irritation by using ointments such as Calmoseptine, Dr Smiths or Butt Paste diaper rash cream. Sometimes we use Neosporin for a couple days if the site looks a little red. We’ve also had trouble with yeast infections around the site during summer when my child is sweaty, so our doctor told us to apply Nystatin to help clear those up.
  7. Keeping hands off the tube: There are stretchy belts which can be ordered from durable medical supply companies. The belts should be breathable and you should have a few so you can change them and keep them clean. You can also make your own out of soft, breathable material. Just measure it the right length and sew or use fabric glue to attach Velcro to the ends. Using long t-shirts tucked in, undershirts or onesies can also help to keep your child’s hands off the tube.
  8. Tangled in G-tube tubing: If your child is getting tangled in the tubing at night, try feeding the tube up through the leg of his or her pajama pants. You could also try cutting a pool noodle into pieces and then running the tube through the noodle so it can’t get easily tangled. Try running it along the outside of a crib and feeding it through next to the tummy, or taping the excess tubing to the bed rails. If the tube gets pulled, use medical tape to attach the tube to underwear or run the tubing under the diaper tabs.
  9. Vomiting while pooping: A lot of parents report that their child with a G-tube vomits when they poop. A lot of tube kids have trouble with constipation as well, so when there is a really hard bowel movement and they strain especially hard, they may vomit at the same time. The tube might leak and get the gauze wet, too. There are medications that can help to make the poop softer and easier to pass, and medications that can help reduce reflux and vomiting.
  10. Build a support circle: Gastronomy tubes are far more common than you might realize and it’s always good to find a local or online group of parents with children with G tubes who can give you advice and ideas on how to deal with problems.
  11. Medicine port pops open: Use some medical tape to tape medicine ports closed.
  12. Getting air out of the tummy: To vent the tube, you can use pressure from a syringe, but we’ve also found a few tricks. Try to get your child to laugh. To get more bubbles out, gently press the tummy while sliding your hand toward the tube. Another trick is to bend a child’s leg and tuck their knee up to their tummy, then repeat with the other leg. Or bend both legs up and press gently. Do a running motion with their legs. This helps get gas out too.
  13. Battery charging: If you feed with a pump while you’re out, invest in a portable battery pack for the car or your pump bag. You can charge them at home and use them to recharge the pump if you need to plug in and don’t want to be tied down to an outlet.
  14. Getting free supplies: If you’re having trouble paying for medical supplies or want to save some money, you can often get free excess supplies from special needs organizations or other parents who have a tubie child. Check out websites and social media for medical supply exchange groups or ask other parents if they have extras. FYI, it’s illegal to re-sell items insurance has paid for, but you can exchange and pay for shipping costs.
  15. If in doubt, call your medical provider! I’m not a doctor and you should always ask your doctor for medical advice. Hopefully these tips and advice will make life a little easier for you and your child with a G tube!

Please comment below and share your experience with us, or give us a feedback about this article. If you think some tips are not included here, please let us know so that we could share them with the rest.