Artificial nutrition and hydration is a treatment technique that can help prolong the life of terminally ill patients. As the name suggests, the treatment includes supplying nutrition and hydration artificially to a patient’s body, in the form of fluids, who may otherwise not be able to survive.
Understanding Artificial Nutrition And Hydration
In this method of treatment, fluids are supplied via tubes, inserted through the nose, or intravenous administration (IV), which takes the fluids to the body through the veins. It is given to patients who are terminally ill and receiving end-of-life treatment or patients who are seriously ill and cannot even eat or drink on their own.
The treatment has to be administered by doctors or professionally trained nurses. It is also possible for the families and loves ones of the patient to get some training from doctors as to how the patient has to be taken care of at home if the treatment continues to be a long-term one. Extreme care and attention are vital while giving this treatment, as the patient may be prone to infections while being treated.
This medical treatment is a blessing to humankind for a number of reasons.
Firstly, patients who need such assistance only for a couple of days or weeks benefit greatly from this. There are times when patients who meet with accidents or temporary illnesses need medical assistance for survival. If the energy required by their body is supplied artificially, their chances of survival increase.
Secondly, it helps patients stay healthy and energized. There are cases where patients’ bodies work fine, but with deficiencies in their mental well-being or disabilities in the upper part of their body, not allowing them to have their own food. These medical treatments come to the rescue in such cases, by supplying the essential nutrients to keep the organs functioning.
Thirdly, it can help people take care of their loved ones. With this treatment, it is possible to prolong the life of patients who are terminally ill or receive end-of-life support.
In conclusion, it is one of the greatest medical inventions that can help people extend the days of their lives.
Just like most other medical treatments, there are risks involved too in this method of treatment.
When fluids are supplied through tubes, the chances of infection are a high possibility. The probability of bleeding around the tube area cannot be ignored too. Therefore, diligent care and cleanliness are to be displayed by those that take care of the patient.
For some patients, this treatment may cause cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and other illnesses.
Also, the treatment may not be compatible with some patients’ body conditions. Hence, a suitable medical assessment has to be done before going ahead with the treatment, which may otherwise lead to a more complicated medical condition.
Ethics In Treatment
This method of treatment is really considered a gift to humanity for the reasons stated above. This intervention is of great help for those who need short-term support.
However, for those that may need this for the long term and in the long run for survival, there are a number of ethical and moral issues that surround this method of treatment. Patients who are terminally ill may not be able to make a decision for themselves, and it may fall on their family members/ relatives to make a decision on their behalf, which is often a difficult choice to make.
While some may tend to approach this from a logical viewpoint, some may look at the moral aspect of it. For example, for a brain-dead patient, who will die when removed from the support system, it may become a question of morality to remove patients from life support. The decision-makers may forever remain in doubt about the outcome of their decision.
Advance Care Planning
Being able to have a say in case of a short-term or long-term dependence on artificial hydration and nutrition is one of the reasons why many people opt for advance care planning or are advised to consider advance care planning.
People should learn to familiarize themselves with the facts about artificial nutrition and hydration and be able to make a decision for themselves, while also keeping themselves updated with the latest in the field of medicine.
You can also refer to Deep Nutrition-Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food?