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Tracheostomy tube - eating

Trach - eating

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Description

Most people with a tracheostomy tube will be able to eat normally. However, it may feel different when you swallow foods or liquids.

Eating and Tracheostomy Tubes

When you get your tracheostomy tube, or trach, you may be first started on a liquid or very soft diet. Later the trach tube will be changed to a smaller size which will make swallowing easier. In some cases, your health care provider will tell you not to eat right away if there is a concern that your swallowing is impaired. Instead, you will get nutrients through an IV (an intravenous catheter placed in a vein) or a feeding tube. However, this is not common.

Once you have healed from surgery, your provider will tell you when it is safe to advance your diet to take in solids and liquids by mouth. At this time, a speech therapist will also help you learn how to swallow with a trach.

Certain factors may make eating or swallowing harder, such as:

You may not have a taste for food anymore, or muscles may not work well together. Ask your provider or therapist about why it is hard for you to swallow.

Tips for Eating and Swallowing

These tips may help with swallowing problems.

If your tracheostomy tube has a cuff, the speech therapist or provider will ensure the cuff is deflated during meal times. This will make it easier to swallow.

If you have a speaking valve, you may use it while you eat. It will make it easier to swallow.

Suction the tracheostomy tube before eating. This will keep you from coughing while eating, which could make you throw up.

When to Call the Doctor

You and your health care provider must watch for 2 important problems:

Call your provider if any of the following problems occur:

References

Dobkin BH. Neurological rehabilitation. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 57.

Greenwood JC, Winters ME. Tracheostomy care. In: Roberts JR, ed. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 7.

Mirza N, Goldberg AN, Simonian MA. Swallowing and communication disorders. In: Lanken PN, Manaker S, Kohl BA, Hanson CW, eds. Intensive Care Unit Manual. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 22.

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Review Date: 10/17/2017  

Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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