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Happy Feeding Tube Awareness Week!
The 12th annual Feeding Tube Awareness Week will be celebrated worldwide February 7-11, 2022!
In 2011, Feeding Tube Awareness launched the first annual Feeding Tube Awareness Week. The mission of Awareness Week is to “promote the positive benefits of feeding tubes as life saving medical interventions. The week also serves to educate the broader public about the medical reasons that children and adults are tube fed, the challenges that families face, and day-to-day life with tube feeding. Feeding Tube Awareness Week® connects families, by showing how many other families are going through similar things, and making people feel less alone.”
Dr. Julie Sanchez, co-founder of Spoonie Threads, works as a Pediatric Surgeon at Austin Pediatric Surgery, where she has been practicing for over two decades. She treats infants, children, and adolescents who have a range of issues and her work has given her vast insight into what sick children and their families really need.
The decision to place a feeding tube in your child can be life saving, but it can cause new issues.
The three top issues that bring most families to seek medical attention after a feeding tube is placed are:
1. Skin irritation from a leaking button
2. Granulation tissue which can also lead to skin irritations
3. Accidentally, pulling the button out.
In general most skin irritations can be prevented if the skin is kept clean and dry. Early on, your surgeon may ask you to apply an antibiotic ointment. Long term, this can lead to other issues. Once your surgeon gives you the OK, I prefer to protect the skin with aquafor if no irritation is present. It can take a few weeks for your child's skin to get used to the button. If the skin is irritated then I prefer a thicker barrier, such overnight Desitin, 40% Zinc Oxide, or Calmoseptine. If the irritation is due to leaking or granulation tissue, then this issue needs to be addressed as well. If it is a new button, you should see your surgeon. If it is an old button which has a well established tract, then check the water content in the balloon. Depending on the type of button you will have anywhere from 4-5 cc of water. If the water is discolored, you likely have a leak in the balloon and the button should be changed out.
If you have granulation tissue, I like to treat it with a mixture of Alum and overnight Desitin or Calmoseptine. I have my patients create a 50/50% mixture and apply it to the granulation tissue twice a day for about two weeks. This tends to work well. Sometimes, your surgeon will elect to use silver nitrate. Please make sure you protect the skin since silver nitrate tends to cause discoloration or burn the healthy surrounding skin.
If you have a newly placed button and it comes out, you need to seek immediate medical attention to have it replaced. If the tract is well established, you may be comfortable replacing it and seeing your surgeon as soon as possible. Unfortunately, they do need to be replaced as soon as possible in order for the tract not to close which can occur in a couple of hours. Most of the button's get pulled out accidentally by either the child who had discovered it or by the parent who gets tangled up on the feeding tubing, especially during the night.
I'm a big into prevention and one of the reasons Spoonie Threads was created. The g-button pads, g-tube belts, wait bands and clips can all help secure the button and keep tuding in place.
Stay empowered and safe. Welcome to our Spoonie Family.