Along with getting the nutrition you need through an enteral feeding tube, you may also need to take medicine through the tube as an added way to improve your quality of life. Your doctor will tell you what to take, how much to take and how to take medicine with your feeding tube (for instance, by crushing certain pills). Here are some helpful FAQs and answers to general questions you may have about taking medicines.
How will my doctor decide on medicines I can take?
Your doctor should do an in-depth review of the medicines you currently take. This will help the doctor decide which ones can be crushed or are available as a liquid.
Any tips on how to take my medicine through a feeding tube?
Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking medicines, but keep these tips in mind:
- Stop feeding to take medicine. Flush your tube before and after taking each med.
- Don’t mix medicine with formula because they may harden together and cause the tube to become clogged.
- Use medicine in liquid form when possible.
- Don’t combine different medicines. Take each one separately.
- Find out if your pills can be crushed — not all can be crushed. If they can be, crush into a very fine powder to help prevent clogs.
- Open medicines that are in capsule form. That way, the powder inside can dissolve.
How should I crush a medicine if I need to?
When you can, ask the pharmacy staff to crush tablets into a fine powder using a fully self-contained, pill-crushing device. This will help keep residue from one medication getting mixed with another medication.1
If you will be crushing the pills yourself, an old-fashioned mortar and pestle is still a very helpful way to grind medicines to a fine powder. Or you can try a commercial pill crusher, which is sold online and at pharmacies and retail stores. Be sure to clean a device every time you use it, so medicine residues don’t mix. Make sure the medicine can be mixed with water.
What if my feeding tube gets clogged?
Feeding tubes can become clogged with medicine if they’re not flushed correctly. You may be able to unclog an enteral tube yourself by following the steps in this video.
When is the best time to take my medicines?
It will depend on the medicine. Some should be taken on an empty stomach, while other medicines must be taken with food. Set up a schedule to help remind you when to take your medicines. Put it somewhere that you’ll easily see it so you can update it when something changes. This schedule will also help family members and caregivers if they need to consult it.
Can I take supplements along with my medicines?
When two substances interact with one another there may be a reaction. To make sure this doesn’t cause any negative reactions, always check with your doctor before taking:
- Any new herbal products
- Over-the-counter medicines
- Nutritional supplements such as vitamins
- Grissinger M. Preventing errors when drugs are given via enteral feeding tubes. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875244/. Published October 2013. Accessed August 13, 2020.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.