U.S. doctors online nowAsk doctors free
A 29-year-old member asked:

Can a patient eat if there tube inserted in the neck for breathing. patient has been on a ventilator for past week and is unable to breath on his own?

3 doctor answers9 doctors weighed in
Dr. Swati Avashia
Internal Medicine and Pediatrics 24 years experience
Not really: Feedings can be provided by a tube that goes through the nose or mouth into the stomach or through an iv. Usually people do not eat by mouth when they are ventilator dependant.
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 30 years experience
Yes, sometimes...: Sometimes a person with a trach tube can eat. To determine whether or not the person can eat without aspirating, they will need to have a test called a modified barium swallow. It consists of eating different foods mixed w/ barium and watching where the food goes via x-ray. The test is done by a radiologist and speech therapist and the person can then eat what is deemed safe by the speech therapis.
Dr. Michael Depietro
Pulmonary Critical Care 36 years experience
Yes: It sounds like you are referring to a tracheostomy. This is done when a patient needs to be on a ventilator for a longer time.. Many patients with such a tube can swallow and therefore eat, especially if they have gotten well enough to have periods of time off the ventilator, but some will require artificial feeding for a time via a feeding tube if they are not able to swallow.

90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. Get help now:

Ask doctors free
Educational text
Talk to a doctor
24/7 visits - just $39!
50% off with $15/month membership
Last updated Jan 8, 2020


Content on HealthTap (including answers) should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and interactions on HealthTap do not create a doctor-patient relationship. Never disregard or delay professional medical advice in person because of anything on HealthTap. Call your doctor or 911 if you think you may have a medical emergency.