A tracheostomy tube supports breathing for those who cannot breathe normally due to an injury to the head or the neck or some issue with the windpipe. The placement of a tracheostomy tube can be short-term or long-term.
If the patient’s health is good overall, they may be allowed to leave the hospital with a tracheostomy after consultation, planning, and education.
There will naturally still be questions and concerns about at-home care with a tracheostomy. Will the patient still need a ventilator to breathe? Will the caregiver be able to handle all that is required?
HPFY understands these concerns, which is why we have listed some tips to help you settle in easily at home.
There is a lot to do before going home with a tracheostomy. The caregiver and the patient must be trained for at-home trach care, such as:
While this was taken care of at the hospital and at home, this responsibility lies on the caregiver and the patient. One of the most important aspects of at-home care is cleaning the tube and the neck (stoma) opening.
The cleaning method will depend on the type of tube inserted. If it has an inner cannula, it must be cleaned daily to prevent dried mucus buildup. The skin on the neck and surrounding the stoma must be cleaned 2-3 times a day to remove dried mucus and excess moisture. A visiting nurse may be able to answer any questions.
Sometimes, mucus forms a clot that does not come out when coughing and must be extracted from the airway by suctioning.
Before leaving the hospital, the caregiver and the patient will be instructed to suction any mucus left in the airway. Suctioning may make the patient cough continuously and become short of breath for a while, but once the mucus is removed, it will subside.
It is important to keep an eye on the color of the mucus and inform the doctor immediately if the color changes.
This could be a little tricky. Any amount of water, no matter how little it may be, can cause breathing issues. Ask your doctor to suggest a waterproof covering for showering to protect the tube and the stoma. When applied, make sure that it does not disrupt breathing.
Contact your doctor immediately, even if the slightest amount of water gets into the tracheostomy tube.
The tracheostomy tube has to be changed every 1-3 months, depending on the type of tube and the doctor's advice. The first change will be done in the hospital by an ear, nose, and throat specialist, a lung doctor, or a respiratory therapist. Subsequent changes can be made at home.
In most cases, caregivers are trained to safely change the tracheostomy tube without hurting the patient. They should also be well educated on what to do in an emergency, such as if the tracheostomy tube becomes dislodged or obstructed.
Numerous medical devices will most likely be prescribed at the time of discharge from the hospital. The patient will go home with an oxygen concentrator or a ventilator, a special mask to push air into the lungs (called bag-valve mask or Ambu-bag), a portable suction machine to clear the mucus, disposable suction catheters, and saline solution.
After a tracheostomy, the patient will likely have a feeding tube inside the nose or through the belly into the stomach until they can eat normally.
When the patient is ready to eat by mouth, it will require focused training on chewing, swallowing, and the coordination of breathing and eating, and will probably take some time. A speech therapist or nutritionist can help with this process.
The most important aspect is the balance between swallowing and preventing any food from getting into the lungs.
After some time off the ventilator, speech may return if the patient’s voice box is not injured. If a cuffed tracheostomy tube is used, the caregiver and the patient will be trained to let air out from the inflated balloon before beginning to talk. A speaking valve is attached to the trach tube, allowing the patient to breathe in through the tube and breathe out through the vocal cords, enabling speech.
HPFY carries a wide range of products for at-home tracheostomy care. Some of our best sellers are:
At-home tracheostomy care is made easier with this disposable tracheostomy tube. When deflated, it helps the patient become accustomed to breathing without a ventilator machine. A taper guard cuff reduces skin irritation.
This sterile solution has gone through 6 stages of water purification. It is used to loosen respiratory tract secretions from the neck's airway opening and inflate the balloon in a cuffed tracheostomy tube.
Made In USA
Provides high airflow and efficient suctioning with a large opening on the control vent to minimize residual suction. It is designed with a plastic glide finish, reducing friction and making secretion removal easy.
Caring for a tracheostomy at home requires a lot of knowledge and attention. It is important to completely understand any medical devices or supplies, the cleaning process, and mucus suction. However, some lifestyle adjustments and careful planning can make it much easier. Talk to your doctor for help in understanding these changes.
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Akanksha Nigam has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. With a Masters Degree in Finance, she began her Marketing career in the banking industry. However, her interest in human ...
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