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Mar 16, 2006
Hi All, I have posted on this forum a few months back about my dad's als and I am back with questions. Seems like he is progressing faster than average. In last 9 months from being able to walk a mile to needing a wheelchair, no speech and now trach and feeding tube.
Pardon me if I am repeating any questions already posted by others. My q's are about tracheostomy that was done a few days back. As per doc, it had to be done to prevent aspiration as he was coughing almost continously. They put a baloon cuff to seal the wind pipe from above.
1. I have seen posts here always mention trach and vent together. Is a vent necessary? Can a person breath with trach tube alone? Are there any problems with doing that?
2. SUctioning of secreations seem like a tedious but important (may be life saving) task. Does the patient need to be watched 24 hrs for that? Can the caregivers share there experience on this ?
3. Even with the trach he coughs a lot. Doc says its due to irritation as there i no infection in the lung. Are there ways to reduce irritation, e.g. uing humidifier etc?
4. If I am right, a vent is needed because the muscle function reduces to a point where person cannot inhale sufficiently. How do we know a vent is needed? Are there any specific symptoms to look for ? He already coughs a lot. How do we know whether his cough is due to trach tube irritation, clogging etc or reduced muscle function?
5. What to expect in long term as far as next major complication? I mean if trach and feeding tube are supporting breathing and nutrition, what else can go wrong ?

My husband had his treach in october of 1998,in january of 1999 he was having breathing problems and cough etc so we took him to the hospital and they put him on the vent as he had too much co2 build up,he is on a vent which assists him to breath and at home he has not been to the hospital since he can still talk as it is uncuffed inner canula and is able to swollow liquid.So i hope i was any help to you(he is totally paralysed since december of 1998),vent does help,we have a suction machine and the whole family has learnt to do deep suctioning and suctioning of his mouth and nose.Good Luck and God Bless.
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