Most people with a tracheostomy tube will be able to eat normally. However, it may feel different when you swallow foods or liquids.
When you get your tracheostomy tube, or trach, you will not be able to eat right away. Instead, you will get nutrients through an IV (an intravenous catheter placed in a vein) or a feeding tube.
Once you have healed from surgery, your doctor will tell you when it is safe to begin eating 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 doctor or therapist about why it is hard for you to swallow.
These tips may help with swallowing problems.
If your tracheostomy tube has a cuff, deflate the cuff to 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.
You and your doctor must watch for two important problems:
Call your doctor if any of the following problems occur:
Trach - eating
Dobkin BH. Principles and Practices of Neurological Rehabilitation. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 48.
Updated by: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, FACS, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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