What is Tracheitis?
The nose warms, moistens, and filters the air we breathe as the air travels down into the lungs. If
you have either a laryngectomy or tracheostomy, this system is by-passed. You may have trouble
keeping your upper airways moist. This may cause a dry irritated airway also known as
This handout is to help you prevent tracheitis, coughing spells, and thick secretions which are
hard to cough up and could plug your airway.
If you live in a colder climate, you need a proper humidity system in your home. Heat sources
can rob moisture from the air in your home making it harder to breathe.
Here are some ways to make sure you get enough humidity.
1. Place a large capacity (9-10 gallon) room humidifier in the main living area. A floor
model with wheels is easier to move. Some insurance policies cover this purchase if it is
prescribed by your doctor. Check with your insurance company.
2. Place a small vaporizer at the bedside to add moisture at night.
3. Place shallow pans of water on top of the radiator at home. This is an easy and low-cost
way to add moisture to room air.
4. For those who have newer home heating systems, change your built-in humidistat to keep
the relative humidity at the correct level (45-50%). If not, try using a low-cost gauge to
keep the level at 50%. These can be found at a hardware store.
5. Make a steam-filled bathroom. This is most helpful for clearing thick secretions. Turn
hot water on in the shower, close the bathroom door, and allow steam to fill the room.
Then, breathe in the moist air.
6. Use a home “mist” machine or nebulizer. Some insurance policies cover this purchase if
prescribed by your doctor for treatment at home. You can get this machine from a
medical supply vendor. Check with your insurance company.
7. Protect the stoma or trach tube by using gauze, a commercially made stoma cover, a
crocheted bib, or other lint-free material. This helps humidify and warm the air that is
Commercially available products such as Ocean ≤, Ayr ≤ Saline Nasal Mist, and Salinex ≤ can also
be used. The tiny, pre-filled spray bottle can be carried in your pocket or purse. It is a handy
source of humidity. You may mist your trachea or stoma every 1–2 hours, if needed. You can
refill the bottle with saline as needed. You can make normal saline at home by adding 2
teaspoons of salt to one quart of boiling water. Cool and store the saline in the refrigerator.
Throw out any unused saline after 1 week and make more if needed.
Be sure to use the saline solution regularly. Living in the cold climate of the upper Midwest you
may need to use saline as often as every two hours. Drink plenty of liquids. By drinking 6-8
eight-ounce glasses of liquids a day, you can help keep the secretions thin.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©4/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5317.