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Secretion Management


In addition to their breathing problems, patients with pulmonary and neuromuscular diseases often have difficulty coughing and clearing their mucous.  An inadequate cough can lead to the retention of secretions that can cause significant pulmonary problems.  If secretions are allowed to build up in the lungs, pulmonary infections (pneumonia) can develop.  For patients with breathing problems, pneumonia can be life threatening.


There are several proven techniques that can be used to help prevent secretions from building up in the lungs.  Here is a brief description of some of these techniques:


Using a Cough Assist device- For patients that lack adequate muscle strength, a Cough Assist device can be a necessity.  The Cough Assist device helps the patient take a deep breath and then it simulates the “cough” with a quick pause and a change in pressure to draw out the mucous.  When used daily, the Cough Assist will help keep secretions from building up and causing pulmonary infection.   









Using a Suction pump- A suction pump allows the patient or caregiver to remove secretions by suctioning them through a tube and in to a waste container.  Patients that have a tracheostomy tube in place will need the assistance of a caregiver to keep their lungs and airways clear.  The caregiver inserts a small tube, called a suction catheter, in to the airway through the tracheostomy tube.  When suction is applied, the secretions are easily removed.  It is important for the caregiver to be properly trained in suction technique so that they do not injure the patient.  At RQS, our Respiratory Therapists are experts in suction technique and we are experienced in training caregivers to suction properly.  










Not all patients have a tracheostomy tube in place.  When this is the case, the suction pump is connected to a wand called a Yankauer.  Patients can use the Yankauer to clear the mucous from their mouth if they are not able to produce a strong cough.  











Respiratory Quality Services is able to provide all of the equipment and supplies necessary to help patients clear secretions and maintain healthy lungs.

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