Hydration and Feeding Tubes

Water is a major nutrient that makes up most of the body and is vital to our health. Fluids are required for proper digestion, bowel regulation, getting rid of waste in the body (AKA detoxes the body), regulating the body’s temperature, cushioning joints and organs, and more!

The amount of fluid needed can fluctuate depending on age, exercise, temperature, chronic or acute illnesses, and more. More fluid is often required to replace bodily fluids and prevent dehydration anytime large amounts are lost due to vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and drains.

Commercial tube feed formulas are around 70-85% water and usually do not provide all the fluid that the body needs. Most people need extra water to supplement their formula and to keep their tube from clogging. Another rule of thumb is that the more calorically concentrated a formula is, the less water it will contain.

One study recommended checking the following every morning to monitor your fluid status for dehydration:

  • Weight: Down more than 1 percent from your average morning weight.
  • Urine color: “Apple juice or darker.”
  • Thirst: “Not just a dry mouth, but so dry that it’s hard to form saliva.”

Talk to your dietitian or doctor about how much fluid you needs. Then use the lists below to monitor for signs that you may need more or less water!

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Less urine output, which may also dark yellow in color and strong smelling.
  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Sunken eyes
  • Flushed skin
  • Tiredness, irritability, confusionwater
  • Headaches, dizziness, fainting
  • Low blood pressure or increase in heart rate
  • Weight loss

Signs of Over-hydration:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tiredness, irritability, confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble breathing (or shortness of breath)
  • Swelling in arms, legs, or ankles
  • Weight gain

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