When a patient cannot obtain their own nourishment, feeding tubes become the only way of ensuring that they receive all of the essential vitamins and nutrients. Illnesses happen, and when they do, it can be extremely challenging for a person to consume food or water in the same manner that they were accustomed to.
While feeding tubes can provide a number of benefits, there are also a wide range of drawbacks, as well. Before you decide to use feeding tubes to keep a loved one alive, examining the advantages and disadvantages of feeding tubes is very crucial.
List of Pros of Feeding Tubes
1. Less Stress For Family Members/Loved Ones.
The process of deciding how you will feed a loved one who no longer has the ability to digest food properly is not an easy one. By allowing an experienced medical staff to install feeding tubes, you can remove a great deal of stress from the situation and allow the fate of your loved one to rest in the hands of the professionals.
Making the tough decisions about what to do with the health status of someone you care about is far from simple. Using feeding tubes to aid in the nourishment of a family member helps to take some of the guesswork out of a trying situation.
2. Life Is Lengthened.
In many scenarios, a person becomes ill before they have had a chance to set up their living will or decide which family members will be inheriting each of their most precious items. Feeding tubes extend a person’s life expectancy and give them a chance to get all of their affairs in order. This means less time spent in probate court for their heirs.
The most important thing for family members to remember is that the choice should be made by the person who is sick. Feeding tubes buy them the time they need to make key decisions and give them a chance to say their final goodbyes, without feeling any sort of undue pressure.
3. Provides Helpful Support.
Contrary to popular belief, every person who consumes food through a feeding tube is not on their last legs, nor are they about to die. There are a variety of surgeries and medical procedures that require the usage of feeding tubes to keep the patient healthy and strong throughout their recovery process. Illnesses can be sudden, but that does not that they have to be life threatening.
A patient may have a temporary swallowing disorder or they could simply be suffering from a lack of appetite. Feeding tubes provide nutritional support to those who cannot obtain it on their own and this includes younger patients who are not terminally ill. The benefits of feeding tubes extend far beyond the elderly and the infirm. Starvation is a problem that affects many different segments of the population and feeding tubes aim to eradicate the issue.
List of Cons of Feeding Tubes
1. Risky Procedure.
What many patients (and their families) do not realize when it comes to feeding tubes is that their insertion and their ability to help the patient are not a given. There are many risks involved in placing the tubes inside of the body and there is no guarantee that the procedure will produce the results that the family members desire.
The risks are simply unavoidable, no matter how competent the medical staff may or may nor be. In order for the patient to receive the benefits of the feeding tub, a procedure must take place where the abdomen is cut open and the feeding tubes are placed inside of the opening. In any surgical procedure, there are risks and the placement of feeding tubes is certainly no different.
2. Stomach Cannot Communicate With Tubes.
During the process of consuming food, a normal, healthy person’s brain sends a signal to the stomach so that the person knows that they are full, allowing them to stop eating. When feeding tubes are installed inside of the abdomen, there is no way for the stomach to send these all important signals to the brain, so the body never knows if it is full or not.
Since the stomach cannot send signals to the tubes and let them know that it is full, this leads to overeating and fluids begin to overflow inside of the body, which causes additional complications. The majority of hospitals do everything in their power to avoid these sorts of incidents, but it is not always possible to do so. Infections can end up taking place inside of the body or the fluids build up in the lungs, which is extremely dangerous.
3. Extreme Discomfort For The Patient.
Feeding tubes are not natural and are incredibly uncomfortable for the patient to wear. As a result, they will usually try to pull them out every chance that they get. Getting a patient to leave their feeding tubes alone and leave them in place is easier said than done. Patients whose lives depend on the presence of their feeding tubes will usually need to be sedated on a regular basis, in order to ensure the proper placement of their feeding tubes.
For family members, this is also very difficult, as no one wants to see a loved one suffer or be uncomfortable. As hard as it is to properly place the feeding tubes in the abdomen’s opening, it is even more difficult to hold them in place.