A: A person who needs a ventilator or persons who have conditions that affect coughing or block their airways
A doctor might recommend a tracheostomy to a patient having trouble coughing. Coughing is a natural reflex that protects your lungs by clearing mucus and bacteria from the inner airways. For a person who has trouble coughing, a trach tube gives access to suction mucus from their airways.
Examples of diseases, conditions, and other factors that might interfere with coughing or block upper airways include:
- Congenital defects of the upper airways (in children). “Congenital” means that the defects are present at birth.
- Airway injuries from smoke, steam, or chemical burns.
- Severe allergic reactions or infections.
- Removal of the larynx (for example, from cancer).
- Long-term coma.
- Neuromuscular diseases that paralyze or weaken the muscles and nerves involved in breathing.
- Spinal cord injuries.