A tracheotomy is a procedure that creates an opening in the trachea/windpipe, called a tracheostomy. After a tracheotomy you will have a tracheostoma, with a tracheostomy tube entering your windpipe (trachea). This will change your way of breathing and speaking.
The purpose of a tracheostomy is to bypass the upper airway for easier breathing and secretion management. A tracheostomy can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the needs and reason for having it.
A tracheostomy tube is inserted into the tracheostoma to keep it open. As a result of the tracheotomy, there is a new way of breathing where you no longer breathe through your mouth and nose, you will breathe through the tracheostomy tube. This means that the inhaled air you breathe will no longer be heated, moisturised, and/or filtered, and the sense of smell can be affected.
A new way of breathing
Breathing through a tracheostoma means breathing in dry, cold and unfiltered air. This will irritate the mucosa of your lungs, and as a result, you might experience increased mucus production and coughing. By using an HME, you will help to restore the lost functions of the nose and mouth. TrachPhone, Dual Care and XtraCare will heat, humidify and filter the inhaled air, reducing mucus production and coughing.
A new way of voicing
Since the exhaled air no longer moves up through the vocal cords, your voice is also affected. Some people may be able to speak after a tracheostomy using equipment and others may not; however, there are options available to help you communicate again – your healthcare professional will work with you to find the best option for you.
By occluding the tube during exhalation you will breathe out via your nose and mouth. The air from your lungs will pass your vocal cords, producing your voice. You can occlude the tube directly with your finger, or via an HME during exhalation.
Rink, from the Netherlands, had a tracheotomy and now uses Freevent DualCare, which is the combination of a speaking valve and an HME. He talks about which role Freevent has in his daily life, regarding family, work and sports.