Tracheostomy care involves cleaning the neck hole, changing the gauze dressing around the tube, keeping breathing air moist, and cleaning and suctioning the tube, reports MedlinePlus. Additionally, patients must cover the tube when they go outside or take a shower. Speech therapists can help tracheostomy patients regain the ability to speak and eat, according to Mayo Clinic.
When performing a tracheostomy, surgeons create a small hole in the neck into the windpipe and insert a plastic tube to keep the hole open, explains MedlinePlus. To prevent infection, patients should clean the hole daily with a cotton ball or swab and change the bandage between the neck and tube. Patients should also change the ribbon around their neck that holds the tube in place whenever it gets dirty. When patients cough, they need to catch the mucus coming from the tube with a tissue. When the tube clogs with mucus, patients need to change it for a new one, wash the old tube and keep it as a replacement.
To maintain moisture in the air they breathe, patients can place a piece of damp gauze over the tube or keep a humidifier running in their homes when the air is too dry, advises MedlinePlus. A few drops of saline can help to clear the tube of mucus. Patients with tracheostomies are unable to swim, and they should take care to avoid breathing in powder, dust, food or water. If they experience symptoms such as fever, swelling, pain, bleeding or shortness of breath, they should contact their physicians.