If you cannot flush or feed into your child’s feeding tube, it may be clogged. First, determine the source of the clog. In many cases, the clog may occur in a detachable extension set. If this is the case, remove the extension set and flush continuously over a sink until the clog is removed.

If the tube itself becomes clogged, flush with warm water, just like you would if you were administering medication. Try alternately pushing and pulling on the syringe with different size syringes, as you may be able to pull back with more force depending on the type of syringe. Sometimes smaller syringes work better.

Some families find that using carbonated beverages such as cola can help unclog the tube. Use a syringe to insert the carbonated beverage into the tube and see if it helps loosen the blockage.

For severe blockages, especially in children with GJ-tubes or tubes that cannot be changed out, your doctor can prescribe pancreatic enzymes to put into the tube to eat away the blockage. Another option is the Clog Zapper, which is a product containing enzymes and other ingredients, specifically designed to remove clogs from feeding tubes. Your physician can prescribe it if needed.

What is the most common cause of clogs?

Medications.

Medications, especially if they are thick syrups, crushed tablets, or time-release “balls”, are the most common causes of clogs. Try diluting thick syrups. Crushed tablets can be dissolved in water for 15 minutes in most cases. Time-release medications should be avoided as much as possible.

In addition, make sure blenderized meals are appropriately thinned and lump-free. Use a strainer to remove any lumps before administering.