Your Tracheostomy Tube: Tips for Eating

When you first get your tracheostomy (trach), you may have some trouble eating and swallowing. You may see a speech therapist or a feeding specialist will work with you to improve these skills as needed. A speech therapist is a person trained to help people with problems swallowing.. Most people are able to return to their usual eating habits after healing from the surgery is complete and swallowing has improved. Here are some things to keep in mind when eating with a trach tube.

Tips for eating with a trach tube

  • Follow any diet instructions given by your healthcare provider or speech therapist. For instance, you may be told to not have certain foods or drinks that are hard to swallow.

  • If you have a cuffed tube, ask your healthcare provider whether you should deflate it before you eat. Also ask your healthcare provider whether you should suction your tube before you eat.

  • When eating, sit up straight. Take small bites, eat slowly and chew food well before you swallow.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids help keep your mucus thin and prevent mucus buildup. At first, you may be advised to drink thicker fluids, such as soups and nonalcoholic blended drinks. As you get used to the tube, you may be able to go back to drinking thinner liquids, such as water. Your healthcare provider and speech therapist will give you detailed instruction on how to change the types of fluids and foods for your needs.

  • Prevent constipation by eating plenty of fiber. This is found in whole-grain foods, bran, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

  • Be aware that your sense of smell may be affected. This can happen because you are mainly breathing through your neck, and not your nose. It is important to label food expiration dates because you may not recognize the odor of spoiled foods.

    Knife and apple pieces.
    Cut food into small pieces to make swallowing easier.

A warning about aspiration

If you accidentally breathe food into your airway (aspirate), stay calm. Try to suction the food out through your trach tube. If you can’t remove the food, call 911 right away.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell