Unclogging PEG Tube

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Unclogging PEG Tube

by TimsWife on Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:59 PM

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My Mom is in the hospital and not doing well, so I will be flying from Florida to New York on Saturday and will be gone for a week.  This leaves my husband Tim home alone.

I have been his caregiver and do everything possible for him, and now he is going to have to do it all himself for a week.  My only concern is if his PEG tube gets clogged.  Sometimes it is very difficult to unclog and requires a lot of strength to push the clog through with the syringe and plunger.  He is still quite weak and will have to call a neighbor or the home health care nurse to help him.

How do you unclog your PEG tube? or what do you do so that it doesn't clog?  I flush it with water before and after all feedings (Glucerna) and meds, and it still clogs.  HELP!!!

Patti

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by Oudave83 on Mon Aug 30, 2010 01:22 PM

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On Aug 30, 2010 12:59 PM TimsWife wrote:

My Mom is in the hospital and not doing well, so I will be flying from Florida to New York on Saturday and will be gone for a week.  This leaves my husband Tim home alone.

I have been his caregiver and do everything possible for him, and now he is going to have to do it all himself for a week.  My only concern is if his PEG tube gets clogged.  Sometimes it is very difficult to unclog and requires a lot of strength to push the clog through with the syringe and plunger.  He is still quite weak and will have to call a neighbor or the home health care nurse to help him.

How do you unclog your PEG tube? or what do you do so that it doesn't clog?  I flush it with water before and after all feedings (Glucerna) and meds, and it still clogs.  HELP!!!

Patti

Tim's wife,

If I recall correctly,  I think the acidity from Pepsi works(for the feeding line when it clogs) but there are many approaches....talk to the nutritionist and those who would specialize in long-term PEG feeding...plus you simply must replace...on the tube that went to my stomach., I recall I ran water after each feeding to clear the line....I never had that part clogged so be careful....

But if you are actually talking about the PEG that attaches to his stomach-please speak to your nurse or doc or hospital nutritionist  first.....before trying anything...

be careful-this happened often to all of us...it is easy to get frustrated and they can talk about cleaning the PEG after each use to prevent future clogging...I also added water to the liquid nutrition to prevent clogging (my caregiver and me).....

You should receive a number of better ideas..it has been almost 2 years since I has my PEG removed  fall 2008....

Good luck Tim's wife-you sound like a wonderful dedicated caregiver-as patients we thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dave

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by cheermomNOmore on Mon Aug 30, 2010 01:41 PM

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The only time we had trouble with the tube is when certain meds that we crushed would coat the peg tube even though we mixed it with water so we just made sure we crushed everything up very fine and mixed it with more water. Check the bottom of the glass to make sure all the meds have dissolved before pouring into the tube.  We also poured some Coke/Pepsi down there from time to time.  We always cleared the line with water before and after each feeding.  Take care.

Kathy

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by chris731 on Mon Aug 30, 2010 03:05 PM

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Like others have said, pop. Anything that uses carbonated water will help clean a PEG tube. I used Ginger Ale, use what every flavor he likes.

I don't believe mine ever got clogged using pop to keep it clear. I would crush up meds in the Ginger Ale and use that mix if I needed it.  

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by Roselvr on Mon Aug 30, 2010 03:22 PM

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On Aug 30, 2010 1:41 PM cheermomNOmore wrote:

The only time we had trouble with the tube is when certain meds that we crushed would coat the peg tube even though we mixed it with water so we just made sure we crushed everything up very fine and mixed it with more water. Check the bottom of the glass to make sure all the meds have dissolved before pouring into the tube.  We also poured some Coke/Pepsi down there from time to time.  We always cleared the line with water before and after each feeding.  Take care.

Kathy

I agree. There was a trick to pushing meds down it if I remember right. It also depended on what medication & how fine of a powder I could make it.

 

As far as the original post - I would call his social worker to see if you could get someone to stop by at least once a day.

Patti, sorry about your mom. I know this can't be easy on you. ~Hugs

My Mom is in the hospital and not doing well, so I will be flying from Florida to New York on Saturday and will be gone for a week.  This leaves my husband Tim home alone.

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by ErthWlkr on Mon Aug 30, 2010 06:06 PM

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Hi Patty:

When I was given instruction on the use of the PEG, I was told specifically NOT to use they syringe , just the barrel part as a sort of funnel.

I rarely had a clog in the PEG tube but when I did, I got a little inventive. I added some clear liquid (water) to the tube until it was about 3/4 full. Then I capped it. With thumb and forefinger of one hand, I pinched the tube just above the liquid in the column. Then with the other thumb and forefinger, I would pinch the tube in steps down towards my stomach. This created some force in the column of liquid that eventually moved the clog down and cleared the line.

Meds were crushed to a very fine powder - there's a tool you can buy in the pharmacy for that if you don't have one.  Then I would feed the meds mixed in liquid one at a time. Mix them in water - added to the liquid nutrition, it just becomes too dense.

I cleared the line both before and after feedings. But I also poured water into the tube several times between feedings which also kept me hydrated.  Remember that even though he's not eating, material can back up into the tube from his stomach. So periodically flushing the tube will keep it clear.

I have heard that soda can work or even cranberry juice.

Make sure that when you use the tube, especially when you're feeding crushed meds into it, you keep the end of the tube as high as possible. Makes good use of gravity!

Believe it or not, there is actually an unclogging med that can be used. Ask your doc about it.

Speak to your friends  - maybe they can agree to "shifts" to help Tom. There are also visiting nurse services that can be helpful but there are some insurance limitations.

At risk of appearing harsh, there are some things that Tom is going to have to take control of no matter how weak he might be.  Of course, only if he physically can. The more he can control, the more determined his outlook can be. Small successes are great incentives. But having a helper standing by certainly doesn't hurt!

Hope this helps!

- Jeff

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by REDVETTE on Tue Aug 31, 2010 03:38 AM

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Jeff -  I totally agree with you.   He should be doing this himself if he is able at all.   I worked full-time so my husband had to do this on his own.   We had a home health care nurse come in and show us how to do the PEG tube.   My husband did all of the feedings himself because I was not there.   There were times when I would come home and he had not felt well enough to do but maybe one can --  so we got on the ball and made sure that he had plenty of nourishment.    I hope that I was not too harsh; however, I truly believe that taking charge of one's own health is the best motivator to longevity.   Hugs and prayers!

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by Roselvr on Tue Aug 31, 2010 04:09 PM

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On Aug 31, 2010 3:38 AM REDVETTE wrote:

Jeff -  I totally agree with you.   He should be doing this himself if he is able at all.   I worked full-time so my husband had to do this on his own.   We had a home health care nurse come in and show us how to do the PEG tube.   My husband did all of the feedings himself because I was not there.   There were times when I would come home and he had not felt well enough to do but maybe one can --  so we got on the ball and made sure that he had plenty of nourishment.    I hope that I was not too harsh; however, I truly believe that taking charge of one's own health is the best motivator to longevity.   Hugs and prayers!

I don't think he's that far out of treatment according to her post on 7/24; it was 10 weeks then. At 10 weeks my hub was still pretty bad; tired & weak. Her hub had different treatment then mine; which could be adding to his weakness. See below, I copied one of her posts.

Part of it could be depression which I can relate to. My hub was really depressed. Having the feeding tube taken out at about the 10 week point made him sink or swim and it was the best thing we ever did. My hub said that within 48 hours food tasted better & his saliva was also better. It was like the PEG stopped these things from happening naturally some how.

 

her post from 7/24- Tim is now 10 weeks post treatment for stage 4 laryngeal cancer with some lymph node involvement.  He went through 3 months of induction chemo with cisplatin, taxotere and 5FU.  Then he had 35 IMRT rads and chemo every Monday.  Started with cisplatin for first two weeks, then was switched to carboplaten for the remainder of treatments.

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by Proxielocks on Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:13 AM

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Patti,

The BEST thing to buy for crushing pills is a Marble MORTAL & PESTLE it grinds the pills up very fine. The have one that is made out of wood at Wal-Mart however, the Marble ones are much better. You can get the Marble ones at Bed, Bath & beyond.

Hope this helps you.

Patty

RE: Unclogging PEG Tube

by tristeve on Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:31 AM

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I must admit, I used the brut force method! I would put water in the Syringe and just pushed! I was pretty good about cleaning it and the clogs were often pills I ground up. one poster talked about a morter and pestle...good idea. I just used a pill crusher from the local drug store. One good thing is that a clog is not life threatening. There is always time to do to the ER or to call your Doc. It just is mentally uncomforatable.

Steve

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