Tracheal stenosis describes a pathological narrowing (medical stenosis) of the windpipe (trachea), which is the connection between the lungs and the outside world. Therefore, the narrowing of the trachea sooner or later leads to increasing breathing problems and often also to pain associated with breathing.
What is tracheal stenosis?
Tracheal stenosis is a stenosis (narrowing) of the trachea (windpipe), which makes it difficult for the patient to breathe. The trachea is the only way the lungs can get air. For slang ego disorder, please visit electronicsencyclopedia.com.
This is exactly why well-functioning breathing is also extremely important – vital, to be precise. The tracheal stenosis is not only painful, but often also uncomfortable to unreasonable. However, tracheal stenosis only occurs suddenly and drastically in very few cases.
This usually builds up over a long period of time, so that it can often be recognized and retained in good time. Due to the numerous causes that this disease can show, it can affect people of all ages.
A narrowing of the trachea or technically ‘ tracheal stenosis ‘ can be congenital. Regular check-ups should be carried out here in order to avoid severe symptoms as much as possible.
On the other hand, it can also be caused by injuries, inflammation and other diseases that affect the respiratory tract. In many cases, tracheal stenosis is caused, for example, by scarring caused by inflammation and injury. Tracheal stenosis is also frequently triggered by previous long-term ventilation, by benign and malignant growths or by swallowing foreign bodies.
Therefore, children can also be affected by a tracheal stenosis, which was either caused entirely by a toy etc. that was recently swallowed, or as an after-effect.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Tracheal stenosis is usually associated with breathing difficulties and coughing. The urge to cough is intended to end the narrowing of the trachea. However, this often leads to the opposite: the shortness of breath increases. A whistling sound is also characteristic, which is present with every inhalation. Depending on where the narrowing comes from, further complaints arise. They either appear suddenly or accumulate over a period of time.
In the first case, a foreign body usually wedges the larynx. Then there is additional bleeding. Those affected should not underestimate shortness of breath. It poses an immediate danger to life because the lungs are not supplied with air in any other way. In less severe cases, part of a lung is often inflamed.
In addition to coughing, patients also complain of mucus formation. Ejection is permanent. In addition to this, feverish states appear. In extreme cases, a bronchus or trachea is constricted. Patients reflexively feel the fear of death. Women and men seem to suffocate. Sometimes they suddenly panic. A sometimes strong gagging is characteristic. This should loosen the apparent foreign body. Blood pressure often drops sharply. Cardiac arrest is imminent if a doctor is not consulted.
Diagnosis & History
Depending on the cause, a tracheal stenosis can progress more or less quickly and drastically. In the case of swallowed objects, tracheal stenosis naturally occurs directly and is shown by severe symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath. In the case of a non-acute narrowing, however, the symptoms and symptoms appear rather slowly. However, it is not possible to generalize about how slow it is. Therefore, if you have shortness of breath or difficult breathing, you should definitely consult a doctor.
This usually diagnoses tracheal stenosis through detailed examinations of the airways and lungs: for example, through X-rays and ultrasound examinations as well as pulmonary endoscopy. In the case of more severe symptoms and if necessary, extensive CT examinations are often called in today.
Tracheal stenosis has serious complications for those affected. If an object is swallowed, this leads to acute shortness of breath and to suffocation after just a few minutes. At the same time, severe pain and panic attacks usually occur. Immediate treatment is essential, otherwise the shortness of breath will increase and the affected person will eventually be unable to breathe at all.
In addition to the risk of suffocation, there is also a risk that the foreign body could slip down the trachea or esophagus, causing injury. The tracheal stenosis itself usually does not result in any acute complications, but can cause long-term consequences. A non-acute constriction can lead to chronic oxygen deficiency. As a result, the affected person is less efficient and often suffers from mental deficits such as impaired concentration and forgetfulness.
Permanent brain damage can occur in the long term. Treatment with a stent can lead to injuries. Sometimes the area of skin around the stent becomes inflamed, which in the worst case can lead to an infection of the trachea. Surgery carries similar risks and can also cause problems with wound healing and scarring.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the case of an acute tracheal stenosis, the emergency doctor must be called. The affected person may experience severe shortness of breath and severe pain. If left untreated, there is a risk of suffocation in acute tracheal stenosis. In addition, the triggering foreign body can slip into the trachea or esophagus and cause internal injuries. Congenital or acquired tracheal stenosis should also be clarified by a doctor. If typical symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and mucus formation occur, this is a case for the doctor.
Difficulty concentrating and a generally limited mental capacity are also typical warning signs that require clarification by a doctor. The person concerned should consult the otolaryngologist or the family doctor who can carry out an examination and suggest a treatment. Otherwise, serious complications, including suffocation, can develop. Depending on the cause, tracheal stenosis is treated either surgically or via a stent. A widening of the trachea is a complicated procedure, which is why those affected usually have to consult the ENT doctor regularly even after the initial treatment.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of tracheal stenosis also depends primarily on the cause. However, purely medicinal treatments are only feasible and useful in very few cases.
It is often necessary to resort to surgical procedures even for milder symptoms and types. However, these do not always have to be of great magnitude, which is why you should never postpone a visit to the doctor out of fear. Because disturbing foreign tissue such as growths, for example, can often be removed relatively gently and easily by means of a small bronchoscopic intervention.
In addition, in the case of less drastic narrowing of the trachea, stents are used, which widen the trachea. These procedures are often almost painless and only take a few minutes. Depending on the cause, stents can also remain in place temporarily or for life. In severe cases, however, a more extensive operation may be necessary.
In this case, for example, the affected section of the trachea is removed and the remaining parts of the trachea are reconnected using modern means, often with the support of artificial ventilation methods. In the best case, an almost tension-free and pain-free original state can be restored.
Tracheal stenosis cannot be prevented. Only constrictions resulting from swallowing can occasionally be avoided with a certain amount of caution. You should keep a particularly good eye on small children in particular. However, you can consult a doctor at the first signs, so that action can be taken in good time.
In addition, you should undergo regular check-ups if you have long-lasting, chronic or congenital complaints. In this way, drastic symptoms and thus more drastic treatment methods can often be avoided.
After the operation of a tracheal stenosis, the patient should be able to breathe freely. During your stay in the hospital, your respiratory system will be checked regularly every day up to the tenth day after the operation. Ambulatory airway monitoring continues at least weekly for the first month after clinical discharge.
If the healing process is positive, half-yearly checks of the airways are sufficient from the second month after clinical discharge. Small scars remain visible on the patient’s lower neck. It makes sense to take an antibiotic immediately after the operation. The body’s natural defenses can be supported in this way.
Other medications are generally not required with regard to the healing of the surgical wound. An inhalation treatment can promote the healing process. Inhalation has a decongestant effect on the lung tissue irritated by the operation. Existing pain can be relieved in this way. The inhalation treatment should be continued for at least one month.
Following the clinical stay, follow-up treatment in a special clinic is recommended. The tracheal stenosis is considered to have healed completely as soon as the airways are reconstructed with full function. In individual cases, narrowing of the trachea can occur again during the healing process. A permanent tracheostomy may be necessary. Aftercare then focuses on rehabilitation measures with the focus on “living without outside help”.
You can do that yourself
The treatment of tracheal stenosis can be supported by various measures. After intubation, the patient must recover from the anesthesia. The doctor regularly checks the heartbeat and breathing rate in order to detect complications at an early stage.
As an accompanying measure, a change in diet is recommended. Only light foods that do not irritate the trachea may be consumed. Cold, hot or spicy foods should be avoided. Likewise alcohol, coffee or nicotine. If the pain persists, it is best to consult a doctor.
Tracheal stenosis is a serious condition that is usually associated with limitations. Do not engage in strenuous sports before removing the narrowing due to the risk of shortness of breath. In addition, the trachea should not be additionally burdened by stimulants or medication.
After a tracheotomy, it is important to pay attention to pain, feelings of pressure or heartburn, as these are typical symptoms that indicate a complication. If there are signs of infection or injury, the doctor should be consulted immediately. Bleeding and loss of airways are the main problems. At best, the patient is also monitored during the first few days and weeks while sleeping.