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Immediate Hunger with Peg Tube?

Posts: 21
Joined: Jun 2009

my mom has a peg tube and when her hunger bell goes off, it goes off immediately... it's literally, no, i'm not hungry yet, then BAM! i'm starving, i need to eat now!

we are wondering if this might be considered a normal experience.

thankfully we've got her nutrition schedule down to a 20-minute window so we're prepared for when her hunger hits and i'm not worried in anyway about this... we're more curious and amazed at how this happens now that she's got the tube. Before the tube, she had what i better understand-- "i'm starting to get hungry. i'd better think about eating soon" thing.




soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

An interesting observation. I find it to be true as well. If I am on a purely liquid tube diet, I tend to get on a clock that runs as accurately as any train schedule ever did: every four hours I KNOW I need to eat. In fact, if I do not, there is a good chance that I will become nauseous from the lack.

In talking to my personal medical professional about this (my wife is a nurse) she assured me it was too complicated for me to understand (which means it is too complicated for her to explain), but the gist seems to be that when you are surviving on Jevity or some other protein-in-a-can diet, you are feeding yourself nutritional stuff, but stuff that has been pre-processed. Less work is involved in distributing it to your body (put simply, it doesn't require all of the normal digestive work of the stomach). Glucose distribution is apparently a big part of this.

Meanwhile, when you eat orally (or, I would think, figure out ways to pour more 'food-like' things into your tube...and there are some posts on this board that appear to contain great ideas for healthy alternatives, if you go back far enough, by the way...then the stomach has to work harder to move the stuff, if you will, and thus, it takes longer to feel the pangs of hunger again).

That is simplistic, but you at least know that your mom is not alone, that you are not alone in noticing this, and that are reasons for it, even if I cannot explain them adequately (well, SOMEONE in my house can't, at any rate :)).

Beyond being a question of curiousity on your part, it is important for survivors on tubes to know this and to understand it, and to plan their days accordingly.

Take care,


Posts: 21
Joined: Jun 2009


joe, as always, your responses are so appreciated and awesome to read. mom is simply delighted with you and your wife.

while she's not ready to dive into your blog, i've told her about some of your posts so she knew of your humor prior to this personal response. it's been enough for her to keep her spirits up while she tries to embrace her future.

i'm grateful to you.


pmfennell's picture
Posts: 28
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi K,

Yes, I am a 6 year survivor and eating orally now. I had the tube removed 3 months after TX ended and know what your mother means in the I need to eat right now. I can't explain it either, but it is normal. Sounds like you have developed a plan to deal with it. It took my wife and I a while to get used to what I called the "Hungry Horrors." But after a while you develop a schedule and you have a plan in place. Take comfort in knowing that it is normal.


Posts: 21
Joined: Jun 2009

thanks for the info! we're still just amazed at this but yes, we plan for it so it's all good so far.

congrats on your 6 years!! it's so awesome that you went thru this stuff and got your life back.... wahoo!!!


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