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Understanding Secretions


If your child is producing only a small amount of secretions, be sure to suction a minimum of one-two times per day in order to keep tracheostomy clear.

This is usually done first thing in the morning when your child awakens and again at nighttime. Try to avoid suctioning too frequently if not needed as this may in fact increase the amount of secretions produced.

Be sure to look at the secretions as you suction. Secretions can indicate potential irritants, infections, or complications.

Color of Secretions and Meaning

White - This is the normal color.

Yellow or Green - There may be an infection. This can be from a bacteria or virus. Call your child’s doctor if you’re worried about an infection.

Traces of Blood - There may be an irritation or swelling.

Bright Red Blood - There may be a serious problem.

Texture of Secretions and Meaning

Thin - This is normal consistency.

Thick - You may want to:

  • Increase the child’s fluid intake (unless they have fluid restrictions or limits).
  • Increase humidification.
  • Give a nebulizer treatment (for example, normal saline nebulizers) as ordered to loosen or break up secretions.
  • Increase frequency of suctioning to prevent trach tube from clogging.