Most people with a trach tube can lead a normal routine with eating normally however you may experience some difference when you swallow food.1,2
Your healthcare provider will suggest fluid intake for tracheostomy tube patients because this will loosen secretions and makes coughing easier.3
Extreme care and proper training are required to handle the tracheostomy tube because careless handling can result in the food getting trapped in the trach tube leading to potential difficulties.4
Can Trach Patients Eat Or Drink Water?
Once you recover from the wound due to surgery, your doctor will advise the right time to improve your dietary habits and when to start solids by mouth. At the same time, a speech therapist trained to help people with speaking and swallowing will assist you in improving your speaking and eating habits by showing how to take your first bite.
The speech therapist will perform some tests to determine that you no longer have any more complications. In most cases, patients will resume normal eating routine after they are completely healed from surgery. However, certain aspects make your eating or swallowing difficult. This includes:
- Problems in the anatomical structure of the airway
- Poor eating habits for over an extended period
- Emergency conditions that required the trach tube
In some cases, you may not have the taste for the food, and you may experience that you are sensors are not working fine. It is advisable to check with your doctor the reason for your condition.3
Feeding And Swallowing Problems In Children
- Refusal to eat/drink
- Obstruction of the tracheostomy tube
- Choking or coughing while eating or swallowing
- Nausea and excessive drooling
- Lung congestion
- Recurrent lung infections
Nevertheless, there are ways with which you can care for yourself at home. There are a few tips you can follow to improve your eating and swallowing.
- Strictly follow the diet restrictions provided by your healthcare team. When you are told to avoid foods that are hard to swallow, keep them at bay.
- Split your meal into intervals so you should be able to eat more relaxed
- Sit in an upright posture with good body, head, and trunk support while the chin is pointing down.
- Chew well for every bite before swallowing.4
When you first get your trach tube you will have issues with eating and swallowing. During this instance, your healthcare team may suggest liquid or a very soft diet. Later the trach tube will be changed to a smaller size to enable your swallowing easier.
However, in some instances, you will be recommended to refrain from solid foods when there is a concern if your swallowing can be impaired. When the patients experience complications, then nutrients will be administered through an intravenous catheter placed in the vein. This usually occurs in very rare cases.
How Does A Tracheostomy Tube Impact Swallowing?
Skin Tethering After Tracheostomy- An increased injury may affect swallowing by tethering the larynx and decreasing hyolaryngeal outing during the ingestion. Studies show that when cuff pressure increases, the swallow reflex would be significantly affecting in both latency and magnitude thereby negatively increasing the risk for swallowing.
Removing Subglottal Pressure- This is a key component in swallowing and the dysfunction is manifested by aspiration. Clinical studies have demonstrated that trach tubes often limit laryngeal elevation, decrease subglottic pressure, and affect swallowing.
But this can be achieved by using a speaking valve that helps manage the subglottal pressure and enhance the sensitivity of airways for easy swallowing.1,2
- Support, SiteExecutive. “Eating with a Tracheostomy.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, Based in Baltimore, Maryland, 12 June 2017, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/tracheostomy/living/eating.html#:~:text=Encouraging%20fluid%20intake%20is%20helpful,not%20get%20into%20the%20trach.
- “Tracheostomy Tube – Eating: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000464.htm.
- “Tracheostomy: What to Expect at Home.” Your Tracheostomy Tube: Tips for Eating MyHealth.Alberta.ca Government of Alberta Personal Health Portal, myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=zy1382.
- “Tracheostomy Tubes – Feeding, Eating and Drinking Fact Sheet.” Children’s Health Queensland, 27 Feb. 2020, www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/fact-sheet-tracheostomy-tubes-feeding-eating-and-drinking/.