FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long can you live with a tracheostomy?
A tracheostomy is a medical procedure to insert a hole through the neck into the direct airway that allows a patient to breathe when he or she is unable to do so independently. This procedure is commonly associated with advanced diseases such as lung cancer or chronic respiratory illnesses. The amount of time someone can live with a tracheostomy is relative to the underlying reason for needing the procedure; therefore the prognosis of the disease is more indicative of life expectancy than the actual procedure itself.
Why would someone need a tracheostomy?
A tracheostomy may be required when a patient’s airways are obstructed and independent breathing is not possible. In order to give the patient the ability to breathe, they are given a tracheostomy. This procedure can be performed on patients suffering from lung cancer, those who are paralysed, in a coma after a severe stroke or heart attack, or are suffering from any other condition in which they are unable to breathe independently. Tracheostomy supplies can help make at-home care for a patient easier for both the patient and the caregiver.
Can you eat with a tracheostomy?
Patients with a tracheostomy can still eat. In terms of swallowing, the patient should be able to eat normally after an adjustment period. But the patient may experience other issues, like an upset stomach. If this is the case, you can serve them bland foods and foods that are simple and easy to digest. If eating is bothersome to the patient, you can look to other tracheostomy supplies that will make it simpler for them to swallow in the rare event that they are experiencing difficulties. If the patient is unable to eat normally and is being cared for at home, it is important to contact your patient’s physician to note the trouble as quickly as possible. Tip: Consider using a suction catheter and associated products to clear the tracheostomy preceding meals.
Can you talk with a tracheostomy?
Your voice relies on air passing through your throat. A tracheostomy can make speaking very difficult for some patients. Air will pass through the tracheostomy tube instead of through the vocal cords. Patients may only be able to whisper and speak in short bursts as they take breaths in between. As long as the air is flowing through the tube, the vocal cords will be impaired. A tracheostomy dressing can also hamper a patient’s ability to speak clearly.
Is a tracheostomy better than being on a ventilator?
Both options have relatively similar outcomes. However, statistically most patients on a ventilator do not survive longer than a couple of weeks. A tracheostomy can give the patient more time with a relatively stable quality of life at the same time. Unlike a ventilator, patients do not need to be sedated with a tracheostomy, and with proper tracheostomy supplies, a patient can be cared for safely at home.
Can a tracheostomy be reversed?
In many cases, a tracheostomy is used as end-of-life care to offer the patient a better quality of life for a longer period of time. In some cases, however, a tracheostomy is only temporary and can be reversed. Once the trach tube is removed and the tracheostomy hole is closed up, the patient can resume breathing normally through the airways, pending they are no longer obstructed. If the reason for the tracheostomy – sickness or injury – has healed, then a patient can return to normal breathing and speaking after removing their tracheostomy tube. Your doctor will be the best person to explain your possible outcomes given your individual situation.
MEDICAL ADVICE DISCLAIMER
The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, charts, and any other material on this site, is intended for informational purposes only and does not take the place of medical guidance provided by your physician. No information on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a qualified medical professional about your condition or circumstances before undertaking a new healthcare regimen.