If you or a loved one has had a tracheostomy and has been released to go home, you will need to know how to take care of it. Here are some tips to remember:
#1 Make Appointment with Your Doctor!
You should have regular follow up appointments with your doctor each month to check how the tracheostomy tube is doing. Generally, we recommend that you see your doctor the first week after you leave the hospital.
Also, have an appointment set up each month to change the entire tracheostomy tube, including the inner and outer cannula. This will reduce chances of infection.
#2 Recognize Warning Signs
You should call your doctor right away if you see any of this happening:
- Smelly mucus coming from the tracheostomy.
- Bright red blood and mucus.
- A significant increase in the amount of mucus or a change in color, especially brown or green.
- Skin that is red and inflamed around the stoma.
- If you feel especially hot or cold, check your temperature. You should go to the doctor if your temperature is 101 F or above.
#3 Watch Your Diet
What you can eat and how much depends upon your exact medical condition and the tracheostomy you have. Some people cannot eat at all and will be fed with a feeding tube. In such a case, you mat eat some foods, but you should only do so if it is safe to swallow.
Have a careful discussion about this with your doctor. You and your doctor will determine if, how and what you are able to eat.
If you can eat with the tracheostomy, try to sit up as straight as you can when eating. Deflate your tracheostomy cuff while eating, and use a cap on the tube. Doing so makes it easier to swallow.
#4 Keep the Airway Moist
Humidity is required to keep your airway tissue moist. If you do not have enough moisture in your environment, you may get dry, crusty secretions that can block the airway. You may want to have a humidifier for the air in your house.
Be sure to check out our popular tracheostomy supplies, including the DeVilbiss Vacu-Aide Portable Suction Pump w/ Rechargeable Battery