What is oral suction?
Oral suction is used when someone has particularly low oxygen levels within the blood caused by loose secretions (phlegm) obstructing the upper airways. It is only carried out if the person is unable to move the secretions themselves via coughing. This inability to clear secretions may be due to:
- Presence of particularly thick or sticky secretions
- Large volumes of secretions
- Inability to produce enough force on coughing.
- Suction catheter - passed into mouth and down throat in order to suck out secretions that are causing obstruction in airways. Lubrication may be used to decrease discomfort.
- Yankauer – used within the mouth to remove any secretions in order to prevent aspiration (the secretions slipping back down the trachea and into the lungs)
Oral suction is often used in combination with manual chest physiotherapy techniques (such as vibrations). Occasionally, oral suction will be used to attain a secretion sample for analysis; however, suction is only used when:
- Secretions are known to be present
- Secretions are accessible by catheter
- Secretions are proving detrimental to patients respiratory function
- Secretions are causing the patient distress
- The patient is unable to clear the secretions independently by any other means
What are the benefits of oral suction?
By removing the obstructing secretions, this opens the airways up allowing more effective ventilation (gas exchange), meaning oxygen levels return to normal. For the patient this means:
- Breathing becomes easier
- Reduced breathlessness
- Ability to do more
Who would benefit from oral suction?
For oral suction to be effective, secretions must be far enough up the airway to be reached by the suction catheter or Yankauer, and must be loose (thin) enough to be able to fit into the tube.
People with a respiratory condition in which secretions are affecting their breathing would benefit from oral suction. Oral suction is only used in people whom are unable to clear secretions by themselves through coughing.
An inability to clear secretions could be due to: online booking system