10% Off*, Code HPHS10 | $50 Off $250*, Code HP50

Online since 2002 |   866-316-0162

Articles and News

Need for Tracheal Humidification

Kevin Cleary

A tracheostomy allows patients to breathe properly with the help of a ventilator, but this can lead to the thickening of secretions and mucous plugs, making lung function less efficient. Our nose and mouth provide moisture as we breathe, but for those with a tracheostomy this is bypassed. In order to provide warm, moist air in these cases we must artificially create warm, moist air. The benefit of humid air is that it keeps mucus secretions thin while also avoiding mucous plugs. Understanding the anatomy of a tracheostomy will lead to a better understanding of how to get warm, moist air into our lungs.

Tracheal Anatomy

Need for Tracheal Humidification

How exactly does a tracheostomy work? Well, a tracheostomy is a surgical incision in the throat in order to place a tube into the trachea in order to allow for a respirator or some other form of breathing aid to assist in normal breathing. This procedure can be either temporary or permanent depending upon the reason for the tracheostomy. A tracheostomy is also known as a stoma and is usually placed below the vocal cords. The reasons for a tracheostomy can be varied and may include:

  • Cancer in the neck or throat area
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Birth defects
  • Paralysis (spinal cord injury or paralysis to the muscles needed for swallowing)
  • Tumors

As you can imagine these are life-changing events that can be serious and/or severe. In order to live successfully with a tracheostomy, it is important to do everything possible to minimize any negative side effects.

How Does Humidification Help?

One of the side effects of bypassing the nose or mouth is that supplemental oxygen tends to be dry and cool. This can lead to thicker secretions and mucous plugs which, as you can imagine are hindrances to the breathing process. By introducing tracheal humidification, secretions can be kept thin and minimize the need for suction. If your tracheostomy is temporary you may experience a small scar upon removal, but a permanent tracheostomy will require a little more in-depth therapy. There will be a learning curve when it comes to experiencing life with your tracheostomy. You should work with your doctor or respiratory therapist or even occupational therapist to help you adapt. You should use a moisture and heat exchanger to simply and easily introduce warm, moist air into the lungs. Options available to tracheostomy patients include:

Smiths Medical Portex Thermovent Heat and Moisture Exchanger
Smiths Medical Portex Thermovent Heat and Moisture Exchanger
  1. CareFusion Hydro-Trach T Heat and Moisture Exchanger: This addition to a tracheal tube traps moisture during exhalation in the fibers of the heat and moisture exchanger. The inhaled cooler, dry air now passes through this fiber membrane reusing the exhaled warmth and moisture from the patient. This is an ideal product for prolonged use in spontaneously breathing patients and has a suction port that is available with or without oxygen tubing. The introduction of lower humidification can keep secretions thin and has a compressible volume of 17 mL with a weight of 6.7 g. This is easily installed on the end of a breathing tube or tracheostomy tube.

Need for Tracheal Humidification
Smiths Medical Heat and Moisture Exchanger
  1. Smiths Medical Thermovent T Heat and Moisture Exchanger: By capturing heat and moisture during exhalation, this heat and moisture exchanger allows the user to inhale warm, moist air during inhalation. The low-profile design is a deal for spontaneously breathing patients who have a tracheostomy tube. The inhalation of warm, moist air keeps secretions thin, while minimizing the risk of mucous plugs. This heat and moisture exchanger should be changed every 24 hours or sooner if secretions block the exchanger. The clear housing allows for easy observation for clogging and offers the user an economical, easy option for tracheal humidification.

By understanding how our body reacts to cool, dry air can go a long way in avoiding breathing and health complications down the road. By creating a warm moist environment for breathing, excretions should stay thin and minimize mucous plugs that can block airways. Work with your doctor, physical therapist, or even respiratory therapist to create a plan to help you be easier!!


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

Continue reading

Trending Articles

Enteral Feeding: The What, When, and How

Shweta Chaubey

When traditional oral intake is not feasible, enteral feeding comes into play. It supports nutritional needs of individuals recovering from an injury or surgery. Dive into this informative article and learn what, when, why, and how of enteral feeding and ensure optimal patient care.

Using the Carpal Solution Carpal Tunnel Wrist Support

Kevin Cleary

Looking for a non-invasive option to manage carpal tunnel symptoms? Experience relief from constant tingling and pain with this Carpal Solution Wrist Support. Read this article to know about the unique features and benefits of this wrist support brace designed to deal with CTS and find why it is one of the most reliable wrist braces available on the market.

Top 5 Best Reviewed Nebulizers of 2023

Kevin Cleary

Need an effective and affordable nebulizer? Look no further, in this article we offer 5 of our best reviewed nebulizers that are loved by our customers. Click to read more and find the perfect nebulizer for all your respiratory needs.

10 Best Overnight Adult Diapers

Shweta Chaubey

Worried about nighttime leaks? Say goodbye to leakage with our ten best overnight adult diapers and wake up refreshed and dry.

Five Best Cervical Traction Devices of 2023

Taikhum Sadiq

Neck pain can wreak havoc on your otherwise healthy life. Traction device improves your cervical health and overall well-being. Read more to find our best cervical traction devices designed to curb the stiffness and discomfort of cervical muscles.