View Full Version : Cough Assist - Upper Airway Query?

21st January 2014, 13:09
I have arranged an assessment this week with the respiratory nurse and the chest physio to see if a cough assist machine would be helpful for Dad. I can't help but think he needs one as he can't cough much at all.

The respiratory nurse has told me that if his is 'upper airway only' then cough assist wouldn't be appropriate. I'm not sure what this means does anyone have any clues or pointers for me.

I've already been told that non-invasive ventilation is no longer appropriate for Dad can I'm worried that they'll same about this which leaves him with nothing to help him on the breathing front?

I have been told that it's quite normal, by the MNDA Connect, to be told ventilation is no longer an option particularly if they can't remove the mask themselves or communicate that they want it removed and that is very much the case with Dad as there is some frontal lobe involvement.

I do have a suction machine but as yet we haven't used it. In some ways I'm kind of scared too!

21st January 2014, 15:33
Hi Cookewitch,

We have just started this week using the suction machine on Mick and it really helps to clear the mucus, Mick is ventilated and has a cough assist machine but we have been told his lungs are only working a third to capacity now so the cough assist only helps a little to how it use to, and his mucus tends to be very sticky, as long as you don't go beyond your dads back teeth with the suction yanker you will be fine. Does your dad take Mucodyne/ Carbocisteine, that helps thin the mucus, Mick is on 2oml x 3 a day of this to help clear his chest. Good luck

21st January 2014, 16:12
Thanks. Dad is on carbocisteine, 15ml three times a day, not sure it makes any difference though. Maybe that's what they mean with the cough assist, as the lungs deteriorate the less effective it becomes?

Dad had overnight oximetry tests about a week and a half a go and was told they were 'bad but not awful' but it was as a result those that we were told the non invasive ventilation was no longer appropriate. I suspect that his lung function is such that he might not benefit from cough assist.....we shall have to wait and see.

I will man up and have a go at the suction machine, although I'm not sure he's actually needed it...?

22nd January 2014, 12:08
I recommend you do everything you can to keep the throat clear and as you say man up and use the suction machine.
On the evening of 4th Jan I had to call an ambulance for my wife as she had a build up of sticky saliva in her throat which she could not clear, this caused breathing difficulties and had gone a grey colour - it was quite scary. The paramedic when he arrived, informed me that her oxygen levels were very low and he was concerned that the sticky saliva may have got into her lungs. At A+E it was indeed established that she had a lung infection due to the saliva entering her lungs.
She was kept on oxygen for a couple of days and given a course of antibiotics and discharged from hospital on the 10th.
She is now on a saliva thinning capsule 3 times per day (Mucodyne) which has made quite a difference, a suction machine has also been provided.
I also keep a closer eye on the amount of fluid she has. The more fluid she has seems to also help reduce the build-up and thickness of any saliva. Swallowing can be difficult for her sometimes but thank-fully she had a PEG fitted early last year so fluid can be put through the PEG to ensure she gets her recommended daily fluid intake.

22nd January 2014, 12:42
Hi Mal

Dad is on Mucodyne already and is already nil by mouth so all fluid is via the PEG so I do ensure that he gets plenty through. He never seems bad enough to require the suction machine but I might just try it anyhoo and see if it helps.

We've not found that the Mucodyne helps at all, in fact none of the saliva medication seems to have made a blind bit of difference regardless of what it is for i.e. the sticky stuff or the drooly stuff (dad has both).

Definitely going to man up though ;)

23rd January 2014, 12:52
Pleased to say that although the Cough Assist was used today on Dad they didn't bring up any gunk so his problem is very much saliva and upper air way.

They have, whilst they were there, trained me on the suction machine so I'm good to go and not worried about using it now.....consider me manned up!

23rd January 2014, 14:26
Well done, glad you're ready to use it.
It Really will help x

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