Category Archives: Tracheostomy

Living with a Tracheotomy

A tracheotomy is an operation that involves cutting into the trachea that facilitates breathing. The doctor inserts a Tracheostomy Tube into the trachea for as long as is required to breathe. When someone undergoes a tracheotomy they may have questions: Does it hurt, how do I clean a trach, and what will I need.

A tracheostomy stoma site should not hurt after the initial healing process. If it does hurt or if you experience bleeding, difficulty breathing, redness, or swelling call your doctor right away. Depending on the situation, a person can live with a stoma there whole lives or the stoma can be closed with surgery or natural healing, once it is no longer needed.

trach tube

Trach Tube

A tracheotomy may be required when breathing is impacted do to damage or obstruction. Another reason for a Trach Tube is a vocal cord paralysis.

Clean your stoma two times daily. The tracheotomy site can be cleaned using cotton swabs with hydrogen peroxide. Only use unpowered gloves when cleaning the tracheostomy site.

You will need a Trach Collar, also known as, a trach tie. These hold the breathing tube in place. Trach collars can be cleaned while on the neck. Replace the trach collar when it is too soiled to wipe clean. To remove mucus or blockages from the airway, use a suction machine regularly.

When dry air becomes an issue, you can use a humidifier. There are home humidifiers that you can set up in any room or you can use a Heat and Moisture Exchanger to directly humidify the air you breathe.

Trach humidifier

Heat and Moisture Exchanger for Trachea

Speaking is an issue when you have a tracheostomy tube. One way to counteract that is to use a Speaking Valve. Some brands have a supplemental oxygen feature as well. Speak with your doctor to determine if supplemental oxygen is something that you need.

Finally, showering with a trach tube requires the use of a covering to prevent water from traveling into the airway. The stoma cover is designed specifically for covering a stoma in the neck while showering. They come in a variety of options.

Living with a tracheostomy tube requires a certain level of care and a few helpful accessories, but in many cases trach tubes can be temporary and should not impede your life.


How to Live with a Tracheostomy

Living with a Tracheostomy

Tracheostomy is a surgical procedure used to create an opening in the neck into the windpipe to allow the patient to breathe. Generally, a tube will be inserted through the opening to provide an airway, to allow for the removal of secretions from the lungs, and to provide airway management. The term tracheostomy tube or trach tube applies to this airway device. The tracheostomy procedure is typically done under general anesthesia.

Reasons for Performing a Tracheostomy

  1. Blockage of the airway
  2. Abnormality of the larynx or trachea
  3. Damage from smoke, steam, or other toxic gases
  4. Cancer
  5. Paralysis of the muscles that affect swallowing.
  6. Injuries of the neck or mouth


Tracheostomy Post-Surgery

Medmart ShowerShield with Rubber Collar

A tracheostomy may be temporary; if so, the trach tube will be removed when it is no longer needed. Only a minimal scar will remain after healing, which generally occurs in a few weeks. Sometimes the area will tighten and cause breathing difficulty and will need further surgery. On the other hand, if the tube is permanent, the hole will remain open. If it is no longer needed, the hole left by the tracheostomy procedure may be surgically closed.

Long-Range Prognosis

At first, breathing is a learning process. Also, communicating with others will not happen overnight. It will take some time. Given training and practice, most can learn to talk even with the hole still open and the tube in. Patience is required of the patient as well as the caregivers while all of this adjustment occurs.

The patient and the caregiver(s) must learn how to take care of the tracheostomy. Hospital personnel should provide training and home-care service may be required.

Medical professionals feel that a normal lifestyle should be pursued by the tracheostomy patient. However, when the patient goes outdoors, the hole should be covered lightly such as with a scarf. Care will need to be taken with regard to safety precautions such as exposure to water, powder, or food particles. Several manufacturers produce tracheostomy accessories to help provide safety precautions to protect the health of the trach patient. These trach accessories include the trach vent, passey valve, trach shower shield, soma shield cover, trach collar, trach ties, trach tube holder, trach cover, trach heat exchanger, tracheostomy cleaning tray, and trach speaking valve.

Changing the Tube

Posey Foam Trach Ties

The tracheostomy tube will need to be changed from time to time, but the surgeon will do the first one. This will happen usually a couple of weeks after surgery, and the medical team will teach caregivers how to change the tube.

The inside of the trach tube will be coated with secretions from the lungs and so it needs to be changed about once a week. Should the patient have a chest infection, the tube may need to be changed oftener. Timing is important. It should be done before a meal or at least two hours after a meal.


Passy Muir Purple Passy Muir Tracheostomy and Ventilator Speaking Valve

The air coming through the tracheostomy tube is cooler, dryer, and not as clean as that breathed normally. The body responds by producing more mucus. Suctioning is vital! The purpose is to clean the mucus from the tube so breathing will not be obstructed. If secretions are left in the trach tube, they may lead to a chest infection. Try to work out a practical schedule for suctioning. If you do it too often, it will simply lead to more secretion buildup.


Many people live for years with tracheostomies and have normal lives, both older and younger people. Patience on the part of the person with the tracheostomy as well as those around him or her will make it possible to get through the difficulties until they become a little-noticed part of your family’s daily existence.

Vitality Medical carries an assortment of trach tube supplies for airway management. Trach tubes available include the Shiley Trach, Bivona Trach, Portex Trach, and Cuffed Trach.