Part of Atos Medical

What is a Tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made into the windpipe (trachea) to create a direct airway called a ‘stoma’. 

After a tracheostomy you will have a tracheostoma, with a tracheostomy tube entering your windpipe. This will change your way of breathing and speaking.

For help and advice


Breathing through a tracheostoma means breathing in dry, cold and unfiltered air. This can irritate the mucosa (lining) of your lungs, and as a result you can experience increased mucous production and coughing.


A heat and moisture exchanger (HME) helps to restore the lost functions of the nose and mouth. By using an HME you will be able to heat, humidify and filter the inhaled air, reducing mucus production and coughing.

Ability to speak

Depending on the reason for your tracheostomy, speaking can be possible again by occluding the tracheostomy tube, provided there is enough space between the windpipe and the tube. 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.

To speak without using your hands you can use a speaking valve to occlude the tracheostomy tube during exhalation. 


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