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The Pros and Cons of Nasal Tube Feeding

Updated April 17, 2017

Doctors insert nasogastric (NG) tubes through the nose down into the stomach. Doctors use NG tubes to feed patients or to remove air or fluid from the stomach. NG tube feeding has advantages and disadvantages.

Pro

NG tubes can be inserted without surgery, which allows doctors to insert them quickly and with less risk.

Cons

NG tubes often irritate the patient's throat and nose and may cause patients to gag. They also increase mucus secretion and increase the chances of sinusitis. In addition, NG tube feeding can cause a medical emergency if the tube inadvertently enters the lungs.

Considerations

Doctors usually choose NG tubes when patients need tube feeding for a short time. Patients who require long-term tube feeding usually use gastronomy tube feeding, which involves a tube surgically placed in the stomach.

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About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.