What Is a Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube)?

    A nasogastric (NG) tube is a thin, soft tube that goes in through the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach. They're used to feed formula to a child who can't get nutrition by mouth. Sometimes, kids get medicine through the tube.

    NG tubes are used for short periods of time, usually a few weeks to months.

    Who Needs an NG Tube?

    Kids need NG tubes when they can't eat and drink enough to stay healthy. This may happen when:

    • Getting an NG-Tube

      Getting an NG-Tube

      Find out what to expect when your child needs a nasogastric tube.

    What Happens During NG Tube Placement?

    In the hospital, a health care provider trained in placing NG tubes can insert the tube at a child's bedside. When they do this short procedure, they:

    • Measure the tube against the child to be sure it's the right length.
    • Lubricate the tube with water or a special jelly.
    • Insert the tube into a nostril and guide it down the esophagus, into the stomach.
    • Check to make sure the NG tube is placed correctly.
    • Tape the tube to the child's cheek to hold it in place.

    Are There Any Risks From NG Tube Placement?

    Inserting the tube into the wrong place is a risk of NG tube placement. That's why it's important to be sure the end of the tube reaches into the stomach.

    How Do I Care for the NG Tube at Home?

    If your child has an NG tube, it's normal to feel a little bit nervous about it at first. But soon you'll feel confident about giving feeds and changing it.

    Here are some tips:

    • Always wash your hands well before caring for the NG tube or giving a feed or medicine.
    • Always keep the feeding set tubing out of the way of infants and children. There is a risk that the feeding set tubing can get wrapped around a child’s neck, which could lead to strangulation or death.
    • Check that the tube is placed into the stomach and is working well before you use it.
    • Know what to do if the tube gets blocked or comes out.
    • Keep the area around your child's nose clean using gauze pads and warm water.
    • Check the skin around the nose regularly for signs of irritation or infection, like redness, tenderness, warmth, swelling, or drainage.
    • Switch nostrils each time you change the NG tube.

    When Should I Call the Doctor?

    Call the care team if your child has any of these symptoms:

    • nausea
    • diarrhea
    • a swollen or hard belly
    • bleeding from the nose or mouth
    • vomiting
    • belly pain
    • blood in the stool (poop)
    • a fever
    • a cough
    • fussiness or irritability

    If your child has trouble breathing or is choking:

    1. Stop the feed.
    2. Remove the tube.
    3. Call your care team.
    4. Call 911 if the problems continue.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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