Hospital  >  Departments  >  Critical Care Medicine  >  Navigating the ICU  >  What are all those tubes and machines?  >  How does my loved one get food and nutrition at the ICU?
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How does my loved one get food and nutrition at the ICU?

If the patient is awake, alert, and able to safely swallow, he or she can eat regular food. Some patients may be given a variety of supplements or a specialized diet to make sure that they get enough nourishment. It’s safe, for most patients, to receive no nutrition for up to 7 days.

Patients who cannot eat adequately or safely may require specialized nutrition therapies, for example:

  • Tube feeding (enteral nutrition) is liquid nutrition fed directly into the stomach or the small bowel using a tube. This is the preferred method of providing nutrition for patients who cannot eat.
  • IV nutrition (parenteral nutrition) is provided directly into the blood stream. This method is used for patients who cannot tolerate tube feeding.

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Location and contact

Critical Care Medicine

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, 
D-wing, 1st floor
room D1 08
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4522
Fax: 416-480-4999

For information about patients admitted to Sunnybrook's Intensive Care Units, please contact the unit through the hospital switchboard at 416-480-6100