Enteral Nutrition

Helping you receive the daily nutrition you need – delivered to your door.

Sometimes an illness, surgery or other problems can make it difficult or impossible for you, or a loved one, to take food by mouth. When this happens, enteral nutrition–or tube feeding–helps you get the nutrition you need.

Your provider may also prescribe oral supplements, or nutritional formulas, to ensure you receive the right balance of nutrients for growth and development.

We provide oral nutrition supplements and specialty formula options, as well as supplies for all methods of tube feeding.

With enteral nutrition, a liquid food mixture is delivered directly to your stomach or small intestine through a tube, or through oral supplements if you're able to swallow and take nutrition by mouth.

Our team provides you with the right knowledge and resources to independently administer enteral nutrition at home.

Understanding Enteral Nutrition

With enteral nutrition, a liquid food mixture is delivered directly to your stomach or small intestine through a tube, or through oral supplements if you're able to swallow and take nutrition by mouth.

Our team provides you with the right knowledge and resources to independently administer enteral nutrition at home.

Watch: Enteral Nutrition What to Expect

Enteral nutrition offers many advantages for people who need it, including:

  • It gives your body the nutrition you need as you recover from an illness or surgery.
  • It lets you and your provider monitor your food intake and reduces the chance of possible risks.
  • It keeps your body strong and healthy when you cannot take food by mouth, so you can stay active.

The amount of time patients need enteral nutrition varies. You may receive enteral nutrition only for a short time until you can eat again. If you receive enteral nutrition for only a few days or weeks, you might use a nasal (NG/NJ) tube, which goes through your nose and into your stomach or intestine.

However, a feeding tube can also be your nutrition source for a longer period or even indefinitely, depending on your condition. For long-term feeding, a surgeon will create an entry in your abdomen to directly insert a tube.

By learning to administer enteral nutrition at home for yourself–or as a caregiver for someone else–you can continue to live your normal life and, in most cases, enjoy the activities you love.

Learn more about pediatric gastrointestinal tubes.

What to Expect from Enteral Nutrition

Enteral nutrition offers many advantages for people who need it, including:

  • It gives your body the nutrition you need as you recover from an illness or surgery.
  • It lets you and your provider monitor your food intake and reduces the chance of possible risks.
  • It keeps your body strong and healthy when you cannot take food by mouth, so you can stay active.

The amount of time patients need enteral nutrition varies. You may receive enteral nutrition only for a short time until you can eat again. If you receive enteral nutrition for only a few days or weeks, you might use a nasal (NG/NJ) tube, which goes through your nose and into your stomach or intestine.

However, a feeding tube can also be your nutrition source for a longer period or even indefinitely, depending on your condition. For long-term feeding, a surgeon will create an entry in your abdomen to directly insert a tube.

By learning to administer enteral nutrition at home for yourself–or as a caregiver for someone else–you can continue to live your normal life and, in most cases, enjoy the activities you love.

Learn more about pediatric gastrointestinal tubes.

Whether it is for yourself or a loved one, using a feeding tube at home may seem overwhelming at first. Your doctor and the home care team will make sure that you have the knowledge, resources, support and equipment you need to feel confident and comfortable.

Monitoring

Your enteral nutrition plan delivers enough nutrients to help you thrive. Your care team will monitor your progress to ensure your tube feeding provides the correct levels of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fat, protein and fluids and whether you are able to follow the plan. Working closely with you and your provider, your care team will recommend changes to your formula or schedule as needed.

Education

You will learn how to use your feeding tube and other equipment and supplies, as well as how to clean the items and resolve simple problems that arise. You will learn how to avoid infections at your feeding tube site and recognize them if they occur. For any questions or issues that arise, you can always contact your provider or dietitian via phone.

Free Virtual Consultations

IU Health Virtual Visits give you access to our highly skilled registered dietitians from the comfort of your home. With Virtual Visits, you can schedule free convenient, personalized consultations from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Download our PDF guide for information on how it works.

Refills: Formula and Supplies

Your nutrition team will make sure you always have the liquid food and other supplies you need. Supplies are delivered to your home once a month. A customer service representative will contact you about 5 days before your refill is due. A team member is available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you with any urgent tube feeding problems.

Order your monthly refills through our online form or call 317.963.2400.

National Supply Challenges

Please rest assured that should there be a backorder, manufacturer shipping delay or recall our team will work with your provider to ensure you receive an appropriate substitute product.

Support from IU Health

Whether it is for yourself or a loved one, using a feeding tube at home may seem overwhelming at first. Your doctor and the home care team will make sure that you have the knowledge, resources, support and equipment you need to feel confident and comfortable.

Monitoring

Your enteral nutrition plan delivers enough nutrients to help you thrive. Your care team will monitor your progress to ensure your tube feeding provides the correct levels of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fat, protein and fluids and whether you are able to follow the plan. Working closely with you and your provider, your care team will recommend changes to your formula or schedule as needed.

Education

You will learn how to use your feeding tube and other equipment and supplies, as well as how to clean the items and resolve simple problems that arise. You will learn how to avoid infections at your feeding tube site and recognize them if they occur. For any questions or issues that arise, you can always contact your provider or dietitian via phone.

Free Virtual Consultations

IU Health Virtual Visits give you access to our highly skilled registered dietitians from the comfort of your home. With Virtual Visits, you can schedule free convenient, personalized consultations from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Download our PDF guide for information on how it works.

Refills: Formula and Supplies

Your nutrition team will make sure you always have the liquid food and other supplies you need. Supplies are delivered to your home once a month. A customer service representative will contact you about 5 days before your refill is due. A team member is available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you with any urgent tube feeding problems.

Order your monthly refills through our online form or call 317.963.2400.

National Supply Challenges

Please rest assured that should there be a backorder, manufacturer shipping delay or recall our team will work with your provider to ensure you receive an appropriate substitute product.

There are different methods of administering enteral nutrition. These include gravity, syringe and pump feeding. No matter what method you use, you will need certain equipment.

A feeding tube creates a route to deliver nutrition to your stomach or intestine when you are unable to eat by mouth.

A feeding pump delivers nutrition through a feeding tube and into your body on a prescribed schedule. There are different types of pumps available. The feeding pump that is best for you will depend on a number of factors, including your feeding schedule and lifestyle. Not everyone will require a feeding pump for tube feedings. Your doctor or dietitian will decide what is best for your care.

Nutritional formulas ensure you receive the right balance of nutrients your body needs. Formulas can come in liquid or powdered form. Your provider will help you decide the formula that is right for you or your loved one based on your condition and your body's needs. When starting out with formula, it usually is best to begin with small amounts and work your way up to a full schedule.

Using Your Feeding Tube - Operating and Monitoring

Find guides and resources below based on how you are feeding:

Tube feeding

Syringe

Pump

Tube Feeding Methods

There are different methods of administering enteral nutrition. These include gravity, syringe and pump feeding. No matter what method you use, you will need certain equipment.

A feeding tube creates a route to deliver nutrition to your stomach or intestine when you are unable to eat by mouth.

A feeding pump delivers nutrition through a feeding tube and into your body on a prescribed schedule. There are different types of pumps available. The feeding pump that is best for you will depend on a number of factors, including your feeding schedule and lifestyle. Not everyone will require a feeding pump for tube feedings. Your doctor or dietitian will decide what is best for your care.

Nutritional formulas ensure you receive the right balance of nutrients your body needs. Formulas can come in liquid or powdered form. Your provider will help you decide the formula that is right for you or your loved one based on your condition and your body's needs. When starting out with formula, it usually is best to begin with small amounts and work your way up to a full schedule.

Using Your Feeding Tube - Operating and Monitoring

Find guides and resources below based on how you are feeding:

Tube feeding

Syringe

Pump

Video Resources

When you or a loved one are adjusting to home enteral nutrition, we understand it can be difficult to remember all the steps that go into your nutrition plan. Use these videos, in addition to the educational resources provided by your care team, to help guide you through your feedings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you want to print a copy of these enteral nutrition FAQs? Download our question guide as a PDF.

Contact your doctor if:

  • The tube becomes dislodged or really uncomfortable
  • You experience diarrhea or constipation that lasts longer than 3 days
  • You experience vomiting or consistent nausea
  • You notice significant weight loss or gain that was unplanned
  • You notice blood, redness and swelling, or foul-smelling drainage around the tube site
  • You notice large amounts of fluid leaking around the tube (dressing is soaked more than once/day)
  • You notice persistent choking, coughing or difficulty breathing

There are many reasons a person may need enteral nutrition. These can range from an illness or condition to an injury or surgery. Enteral nutrition may be required if you or a loved one:

  • have a condition that affects your digestive system, such as pancreatitis, gastroparesis or Crohn's disease.
  • have head or neck cancer that makes it difficult to eat by mouth.
  • have part of your digestive system working, but you cannot eat enough to meet your body's needs.
  • are recovering from an injury or surgery that prevents you from taking food by mouth.
  • have been diagnosed with a condition such as short bowel syndrome or tracheoesophageal fistula.

Difficulty swallowing, lack of appetite, feeding problems in children and other factors may contribute to someone's need for tube feeding. If your digestive system is especially compromised, parenteral nutrition through an IV may be a better option.

If you notice any leakage or crusting at the site of the feeding tube, gently wipe it clean with a soft cloth. Wash the site with warm soapy water daily and rinse well. You can use gauze around the tube to keep the tube site clean and dry. Watch for any signs of redness, swelling, pain or infection. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

You can prevent many of these issues by staying hydrated, keeping your equipment clean and adjusting gradually to therapy. If any of these issues persist, contact your doctor or home care dietitian at 317.963.9732.

Be sure to flush your tube with water via a syringe regularly. If you are unable to take water by mouth, your tube can be used to provide additional hydration. Your tube feeding formula has some water in it, but you will need additional water daily to meet your hydration needs. If you think you are not getting enough water, please contact your doctor or home care dietitian at 317.963.9732.

Be sure to wash your hands before handling your feeding tube or supplies. Use formula by expiration date and store appropriately. Never use a formula that was not prescribed by your doctor or dietitian.

The insurance plans below are accepted by Enteral Nutrition Services.

Coverage for formula and/or supplies can be complex and may vary based on insurance plan or the employer group. Some plans do not cover formula unless the patient has an inherited metabolic disorder. 

Medicare (Traditional) and Medicare Replacement Plans have strict coverage criteria based on diagnosis and length of need. A dietitian will assist with the qualifying process and will discuss any concerns with you prior to the start of services.

We will contact your insurance company prior to the start of your services and will provide you with an estimate of coverage. The information we obtain from your insurance is not a guarantee of payment.

Please know that the most accurate source of information will be with your employer as we do not have access to plan documents. We highly recommend that you contact your employee benefits department or insurance customer service department to understand if there are any coverage restrictions or specific criteria based on diagnosis.

  • Aetna
  • Aetna Medicare Advantage HMO/POS/PPO
  • Anthem
  • Anthem - Blue Cross Commercial
  • Anthem Managed Medicaid - HCC, HHW & Healthy Indiana Plan
  • Anthem Medicare Advantage
  • Anthem Medicare Advantage PPO Plans
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • CareSource - Just For Me (Just4Me)
  • CareSource Marketplace
  • CIGNA HealthCare PPO/HMO
  • Coventry Health Care
  • Encircle Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO)
  • Great West Health – CIGNA
  • Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP)
  • Hoosier Care Connect (Medicaid)
  • Hoosier Healthwise (Medicaid)
  • Humana ChoiceCare
  • Humana Medicare Advantage HMO/PPO
  • Indiana Health Network (IHN)
  • IU Health Plans
  • IU Health Plans - IU Health Employee Plan
  • IU Health Plans Medicare Advantage HMO
  • Lutheran Preferred
  • MDwise Medicaid Plans
  • Medicaid (Traditional)
  • Medicare (Traditional)
  • Sagamore Health Network
  • TRICARE (limited plans)
  • UnitedHealthcare
  • UnitedHealthcare Commercial Plans
  • UnitedHealthcare Golden Rule
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage HMO/POS/PPO

Questions about formula

Liquid formula: Store unopened containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or air vents. Store opened containers in the refrigerator while not in use and use within 24 hours.

Powdered formula: Store unopened containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and air vents. Once mixed, formula should be kept in the refrigerator and used within 24 hours. Unmixed powder should be covered and used before expiration date.

Clumpy formula can cause issues with clogging or tolerance. Be sure to mix well before use. Watch for foul odor or abnormal consistency and contact home care for assistance if needed.

Questions about feeding tubes

If this happens, contact your provider or dietitian. You can prevent a clogged feeding tube by flushing it with a syringe before and after each use with clean, lukewarm water. If this happens, contact your doctor or home care dietitian at 317.963.9732.

When administering a tube feeding, it is best to be upright or elevated to at least a 45 degree angle. Remain upright or elevated for at least 10–20 minutes following a feeding.

Questions about equipment

Please use the appropriate troubleshooting guides for assistance (Kangaroo Joey pump or EnteraLite Infinity pump). Other common solutions include restarting your feeding pump and trying a new feeding bag. If you are unable to solve the issue after using this guide, please contact your home care dietitian at 317.963.9732.

Syringes and extension sets should be washed after each use. Wash with a non-degreasing dish soap, such as Ivory or Palmolive.

Feeding bags should ideally be used for 24 hours (you don’t need to change bags more frequently). If you are on a continuous feed, you may need to refill your bag with formula during this time. However, if you are on your last feeding bag, do not throw it away until your new shipment has arrived. Bags can be rinsed using warm water between feedings. Feeding bags can be reused for up to 48 hours if necessary.

Keep your feeding pump clean from formula, water and debris. The pump can be cleaned with a wet washcloth. Be sure to dry the pump well before use. Do NOT submerge the feeding pump in water.

Questions about refills or shipments

We understand mistakes will occasionally occur. Please call us as soon as possible at 317.963.2400, so we can resolve your issues.

You can place a product refill by calling us at 317.963.2400 or through our online refill form. For your wellbeing and insurance purposes, we will need to speak with you every month when placing your refill order.

When your nutrition refill is delivered by UPS, you can track your delivery through your UPS MyChoice account. You can set up a UPS MyChoice account here.

  • How long will I need enteral nutrition?
  • What feeding schedule do you recommend?
  • What side effects will I experience?

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Enteral Nutrition

  • How long will I need enteral nutrition?
  • What feeding schedule do you recommend?
  • What side effects will I experience?

Patient Stories for Enteral Nutrition

Client Agreement & Email Consent Form

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Email Consent Form

Please review and sign this consent to allow email communication with your healthcare provider.

Forms

Client Agreement & Email Consent Form

Please review and sign this form allowing IU Health Home Care and its employees and agents to provide you products and services. The email consent form allows email communication with your healthcare provider.

Email Consent Form

Please review and sign this consent to allow email communication with your healthcare provider.

(NG) Nasogastric Tube Feedings at Home

Being sent home with a feeding tube can feel overwhelming. Learn what to expect to manage NG tube feedings at home and find a few tips and reminders to help you care for your child.

Gravity Bag Instructions

Instructions from our IU Health Home Care team help you confidently manage a gravity bag feeding schedule.

Syringe Instructions

Instructions from our IU Health Home Care team help you confidently manage a syringe/bolus feeding schedule.

Resources

(NG) Nasogastric Tube Feedings at Home

Being sent home with a feeding tube can feel overwhelming. Learn what to expect to manage NG tube feedings at home and find a few tips and reminders to help you care for your child.

Gravity Bag Instructions

Instructions from our IU Health Home Care team help you confidently manage a gravity bag feeding schedule.

Syringe Instructions

Instructions from our IU Health Home Care team help you confidently manage a syringe/bolus feeding schedule.