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Precautions with a Tracheostomy

Humidification

When you have a tracheostomy, the air bypasses the nose and mouth which provide moisture, warmth and filtering to the air you breathe. It is therefore very important to provide humidification to keep secretions thin and to avoid mucus plugs. Here are some tips to increase humidity:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Use a bedside humidifier. This is very important!
  • Wear a foam stoma cover. Moistening the foam cover with water adds even more humidity.
  • Squirt some normal saline down your trachea several times a day.

Precautions in Order to Prevent Problems

The following are some tips to prevent problems and complications with your tracheostomy:

  • Avoid dust, smoke and powders such as face powder, hair spray, spray deodorant, etc.
  • Use a stoma cover at all times to prevent foreign particles from entering you airway and lungs
  • Never put anything into your trach tube that doesn't belong there. Never smoke through your trach tube. If you smoke, your health care provider can help you quit.
  • Protect your stoma from too much sun
  • Beware of over-the-counter medicines that may thicken secretions
  • Use a shower guard when you bathe, shower or shave and aim the nozzle below your stoma
  • Carry your obturator with you at all times in case your tube comes out and you have to reinsert it
  • Always have an extra tube and know where it is
  • Do not leave the inner cannula out for more than ten minutes at a time
  • Avoid water sports. Avoid getting splashed, and if you must be in a boat, make sure it is sturdy.
  • Sit down and rest for a few moments if you feel upset or begin to gag. Breathe slowly and deeply. If this is a problem for you, tell your doctor. He or she can help you learn to relax.

Tips for Eating with a Trach Tube

  • If you have a cuffed tube, ask  your health care provider whether you should deflate it before you eat
  • Sit up straight, eat slowly and chew your food well before swallowing
  • Drink pently of fluids. Fluids help keep your mucus thin and prevent mucus buildup. At first, drink thicker fluids such as soups and non-alcoholic blended drinks. As you get used to the tube, you may be able to drink thinner liquids, such as water again.
  • Prevent constipation by eating plenty of fiber. This is found in whole grains, bran, fruits, vegetables and beans.
  • If you aspirate (food gets into your airway), stay calm. Try to suction the food out through your trach tube. If you can't do it, call 9-1-1 (Emergency) right way.

 CALL YOUR DOCTOR WHEN...

  • Red, painful, or bleeding stoma
  • Fever over 101 degrees F and Tylenol does not bring it down
  • Swelling or shrinkage around the trach tube
  • Difficulty inserting the inner cannula
  • Pain while suctioning
  • Yellow, smelly, bloody or thick mucous
  • You are short of breath and do not know why

CALL 9-1-1 (Emergency)

  • If you cannot breath
  • If your tube becomes plugged
  • If you aspirate something into your airway