After surgery, your neck may be sore, and you may have trouble swallowing for a few days. It may take 2 to 3 days to get used to breathing through the tracheostomy (trach) tube. You can expect to feel better each day, but it may take at least 2 weeks to adjust to living with your trach (say "trayk").
At first, it may be hard to make sounds or to speak. Your doctor, nurses, respiratory therapists, and speech therapists can help you learn to talk with your trach tube or with other speaking devices. When you speak, your voice may sound deeper and scratchier than normal.
Your trach tube may be sewn or tied to your skin. If you have stitches, the doctor will remove them about 1 week after your surgery. He or she may also take out your original tube and put in a new tube 5 to 10 days after surgery.
Taking good care of your trach is very important. It can prevent infections and help keep you breathing easily.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Your doctor or nurse will give you instructions on how to take care of your trach. This will include how to suction your trach, how to clean the opening in your neck (stoma), and how to clean and replace your trach's inner tube (inner cannula). Be sure to follow all of your doctor's instructions closely.
Always have suction supplies ready, including a fully charged suction machine. Suction as often as needed, but at least 3 or 4 times a day. For example, two of the times could be before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning. You will need suction catheters, a suction machine, saline fluid, a small cup, and a mirror. These should be delivered to your home before you arrive there. Here are the steps to take:
Clean and dry the stoma 3 times a day. Apply ointment to keep the skin healthy. Do not let crust form on the skin at the stoma. You will need hydrogen peroxide, tap or sterile water, 8 or 10 cotton swabs, 2 small cups, a dry cloth, a mirror, and ointment for the skin. Follow these steps:
If you are not using the disposable type of cannula, clean and replace the inner cannula 2 or 3 times each day. You will need 2 small bowls, a small brush, hydrogen peroxide, water, and a mirror. To clean the inner cannula:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: January 12, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
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