Free water in tube feeding formulas - are our patients well hydrated on just eneteral feeds?

Submitted by Sanele Nkomani on Sun, 07/28/2019 - 14:03

The term “free water” may also be seen as “feed water”, depending on the source.  Free water is the amount of liquid an enteral formula (aka tube feeding formula) is actual water as an ingredient.  If you look at the ingredients list of any liquid enteral nutrition formula, you will see ingredients that are sources of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and you will also see “water”.  Water is a component of a liquid formula, and this water is what gets counted towards a patient’s fluid needs.

Free water should not be confused with water flushes, which is additional water provided to a patient in their daily regimen to:

  • Clear the feeding tube periodically throughout the day (may be 25 to 50 ml per flush)
  • Mixed with medications and infused into the tube (also may be around 25 to 50 ml per flush)
  • Provide additional water to help meet the patient’s daily fluid needs (wide range from 25 to 200 ml, depending on the patient’s needs and volume tolerance

Please follow the link below on more information on how to calculate free water