On this page, you will learn more about tracheostomy and how you can care for it at home.
A tracheostomy is an opening made in your trachea (windpipe) to make breathing easier. A tracheostomy tube is usually put into the stoma (opening) to keep it open.
You may need a tracheostomy if
There is blockage of your airway (e.g. tumour/infection)
You have had surgery in the head and neck area that can cause swelling and blockage of the airway after surgery.
You have difficulty breathing due to neuromuscular or respiratory (lung) conditions, needing frequent clearance of the airway secretions (such as saliva or phlegm) or help in breathing.
With the tracheostomy tube in place, airflow is often diverted from your larynx, nose, and mouth. You may not be able to talk the way you do in normal circumstances. Instead, you can communicate through writing or typing.
The Speech Therapist can help you to talk while on a tracheostomy by using a speaking valve. If you have been given a speaking valve, please
It is important to watch out for any signs of difficulty using a speaking valve or when the spigot is in place.
Signs of difficulty include:
If you have any signs of difficulty while using the speaking valve, immediately:
Remove speaking valve and cough
Perform suctioning if SPO2 does not improve
Please seek medical attention immediately if you continue to feel breathless or uncomfortable after the episode.
You should be seen by a Speech Therapist before eating or drinking while on tracheostomy. Having a tracheostomy can change the way you swallow, and may cause food or drink to be aspirated (go into the lungs instead of stomach).
If a Speech Therapist has advised for you to eat or drink, please follow their recommendations strictly. This will reduce the risk of aspiration.
General precautions while eating or drinking:
Cuff (if present) should be deflated, and you should be on the fenestrated inner cannula while doing so
Wear your speaking valve (if you have been advised to do so).Please temporarily stop eating and drinking and contact your Speech Therapist if:
You are coughing, choking, or have difficulty breathing while eating or drinking
Food or drink is coming out from your tracheostomy
Clean the skin around your tracheostomy stoma at least once a day, or as often as necessary to keep it clean and dry. If you wear gauze around the stoma, change it whenever it gets dirty or wet. Gauze is not always needed but if you have a lot of secretions, it can prevent skin irritation and keep your clothing dry.
It is advisable to clean your inner cannula at least 3 times a day to prevent any mucus from blocking the tube. This will help you to breathe more easily.