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Tracheostomy: Helping Your Child Adjust

A tracheostomy is scary for many parents at first. Once you get used to it though it is no more difficult than any other equipment you may be used to using. Here are a few things to consider when your child is having a trach placed.

What is A Tracheostomy?

It is a small opening (stoma) from the skin into the windpipe (trachea). It is located in the front of the throat. A curved plastic or metal tracheostomy tube is inserted into the trachea through the opening. The child then breathes through the tube instead of using his or her mouth and nose.

Why Does An Infant Or Child Need A Trach?

Your doctor will suggest a tracheostomy for children who have severe difficulty breathing. There are many reasons why your child will benefit from a trach. Your doctor should explain exactly why the trach is being used and what it accomplishes for your child. Many times a trach will not only help with breathing problems but it is beneficial in cases where a ventilator is needed or there are secretions that require frequent suctioning. Children who have trouble swallowing often benefit from a trach. Many infants and children will find a trach increases their energy levels and allows them to gain more weight.

Will A Trach Prohibit My Child From Talking?

Many children who need a trach long term struggle with vocalizing. If your child wasn’t able to vocalize before the trach, then chances are, he or she won’t after either. Sometimes as the child grows, the trach tube allows more air to flow to the larynx and more vocalization occurs. Sometimes a Passy-Muir valve can assist your child with speaking and swallowing. You can get assistance from a speech therapist or learn sign language if your child has difficulty.

Can My Child Eat Normally With A Trach?

In most cases the trach will not affect how your child eats. It is always important to suction before a meal and supervise the meal. Problems occur when the food goes down the wrong way. It is also important to keep the trach covered with a filter or trach bib. If you are bottle-feeding your child make sure you don’t prop the bottle or lay your child flat while feeding. Nursing infants should have no difficulty.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages Of A Trach?

If your child needs suctioned often or needs a mechanical ventilator, this equipment can easily be connected to the tube. Nebulized medicine and oxygen are delivered directly to the trachea. This frees up the face and enables you to avoid the use of headgear, straps and the soars they often cause. A trach is easy to use and care for once you learn.

Some people feel a trach is too invasive and increases their child’s disability. It can also cause secretions to be more frequent or to occur at night. Many times the stoma (tracheostomy site) can become infected, bleed or develop granulations that need to be removed.

Although there are both advantages and disadvantages to having a trach, many people find that their child does better with increased oxygen. You should always discuss your child’s care and needs with your doctor and medical team to make decisions about care. Don’t leave the hospital with a trach without fully understanding how to take care of your child. You will not be forced to leave until you feel comfortable with their care. If you have questions about tracheostomy or you need durable medical equipment or the help of a trained respiratory therapist, call RSVP Home Care and we will be happy to help.

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