Humidity and Your Tracheostomy
The air we breathe is normally kept warm and moist (humidified) by the nose and mouth. But when you have a tracheostomy, it goes directly into your airway through your tube and the moisture must be replaced. Proper humidification is extremely important to keep the tissue in your airway moist. There are serious consequences associated with under-humidification and over-humidification.
Low humidity If the humidity it too low, the mucus your airways naturally produce will become thick, dry, and crusty and may cause a plug that can block your airway. If your mucus becomes so thick that you cannot cough, this can be very serious as thick mucus could potentially block your stoma. Thick mucus can also make you more likely to get chest infections.Low humidity can also cause dry skin, irritate your nasal passages and throat, and make your eyes itchy. It can also cause the stoma and trachea to dry out, crack and bleed, causing pain and an increase in pathways for infections.
High humidity can make the home feel stuffy and can cause condensation of water on walls, floors and other surfaces that enhances the growth of molds, bacteria, and dust mites. These allergens can cause respiratory problems and trigger allergy and asthma flare-ups.
Try to keep the humidity your home at 40-60% relative humidity (not higher) can help. See Managing Humidity Page for help.
The best way to test humidity levels in your house is by using a hygrometer. It looks like a thermometer and measures the amount of moisture in the air. It is available at hardware and department stores.