Skip to main content

What Is Enteral Nutrition?


Enteral nutrition what goes through a tube feeding to replace or supplement oral nutrition. If you cannot get enough nutrition by eating or drinking through your mouth, you may need a feeding tube. You may not be able to eat enough food because of an illness or you could have one of these conditions or symptoms:

  • a decreased appetite
  • difficulty swallowing
  • surgery that doesn't allow you to eat

Normally, when you eat food, it is broken down and digested in your stomach and small intestine. Then the food is absorbed into your body in your bowels. Your blood carries the absorbed nutrients from your bowels to all parts of your body.

Tube feeding gives you a liquid food mixture through a tube into your stomach or small intestine. The liquid food is made up of protein, carbohydrates (sugar), fats, vitamins, and minerals.

If you aren’t able to eat enough food through your mouth, you could get malnutrition. Your stomach and small intestine might work, but if you can’t get enough nutrients, your body won’t be able to function at its best.

Who Needs Enteral Nutrition?

People of all ages can have feeding tubes. Children and infants could have feeding tubes as well as adults. You can live with a feeding tube as long as you need it.

Your doctors can place feeding tubes through your nose or through the skin into your abdominal wall (stomach and small intestine). This way you can get the liquid food with the nutrition you need.

Why Choose University of Utah Health?

Our physicians work with these patients to make sure they are getting the proper nutrition for their needs. With their specialty training and board certification, these specialists provide the highest quality of care in conjunction with advanced care practitioners and dieticians.

Referral Information

You will need a referral from your primary care provider to see a GI specialist. Feel free to contact us with any questions about how to make an appointment.

Types of Feeding Tubes

A nasogastric or nasoenteral feeding tube is a tube placed through your nose. A gastrostomy or jejunostomy tube is a tube that goes directly through your skin into your stomach or small intestine. 

Your health care team (doctors, nurses, dietitians, and pharmacists) will talk with you about the different types of feeding tubes.

Usually, a patient will only need a feeding tube for a short time. We can remove the tube when you are able to eat enough by mouth.

Find a Gastroenterologist

Get an evaluation of your condition. Call 801-213-9797 or