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Ask the RD: What Kind of Water Should I Put Down My Feeding Tube?

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
09/27/13  9:45 PM PST
Water Feeding Tube

Regular flushing of your feeding tube with water will help prevent clogging. Flush your tube before and after each use to keep it clear of formula and medications. Putting water down your tube also helps you meet your hydration needs. Inadequate fluid intake may lead to constipation or dehydration. The type of water you use depends on your level of health and your personal preferences.

Tap water, or the water from your sink, meets the Environmental Protection Agency regulations for drinking water and is consistent with the World Health Organization’s guidelines for water safety. This type of water is safe to use for most tube-fed patients.

Use this type of water when:

  • You have a gastrostomy tube and are otherwise healthy

Purified water has been treated to meet the standards of the U.S. Pharmacopeia for purified water. It is essentially free of chemicals and may be free of bacteria if it undergoes a disinfection process, such as distillation, reverse osmosis, ozone or ultraviolet light. Not all bottled water is purified or sterile. Read the label on bottled water to see if it has been treated with one of these methods.

Use this type of water when:

  • You are mixing powdered formula
  • You are diluting medications
  • Your immune system is weakened due to acute or chronic illness
  • You have a jejunostomy tube

If you are unsure, ask your healthcare provider which type of water you should use and how much you need each day. Always use safe handling practices when preparing your tube feeding.

This article is is tended for educational use only and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your feeding regimen, contact your healthcare provider.

Shield HealthCare | Medical Supplies For Care At Home Since 1957

Comments

6 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2016 at 5:24 pm PST

    Just wondering if you can use distilled water when flushing a feeding tube.

  2. Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:27 pm PST

    Thank you for your question, Laurie! Tap or bottled water is recommended to maintain hydration or to keep your gastrostomy tube from becoming clogged. Distilled water can be used for this purpose as well but is not necessary and has not been shown to be any more beneficial than tap or bottled water.

  3. Ann-Marie Watson
    Posted August 15, 2017 at 11:10 am PST

    My stepfather used demonized water in my nephew ‘s pej to inflate the balloon instead of sterile water is this ok? Please

  4. Posted August 15, 2017 at 1:51 pm PST

    If you mean to say, “distilled” water, that should be fine! The maker of Mic and Mic-Key tubes (Halyard) recommends either sterile or distilled water in the balloon. Thanks for the question!

  5. Kathy
    Posted November 18, 2017 at 8:28 am PST

    My son has a J tube and we put water in the bag with his feeds. Our city water just changed as it is hard so I can’t boil and use it any more as there is always a film on to. Should I be using bottled water or distilled water to be sure it is safe for him? Thanks

  6. Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:15 am PST

    Hi Kathy, thanks for your question!
    Tap water is usually recommended, as it’s regulated more than bottled water. If you don’t feel comfortable using the water that comes from your tap, try using sterile or purified water. You can usually find it near the baby formula, as it’s used to prepare powdered formulas. This would be safer than regular bottled water for putting down the jtube.

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