WARNING: The information in this section is meant as a general guide for parents and caregivers with certain problems related to aspiration of secretions. It is not intended to replace the recommendations of your child’s healthcare team.

Discuss your child’s unique needs with the healthcare team, including WHO and WHEN to contact when problems arise.

Resistance or impossibility to insert the aspiration catheter into the tracheal cannula

Resistance or impossibility to insert the aspiration catheter via the nose

Difficulty or impossibility to aspirate secretions

Blood-tinged secretions

Any one or more of these respiratory distress symptoms following aspiration of nasopharyngeal or tracheal secretions: labored breathing; more comfortable in a sitting position or with head elevated than in a lying down position; rapid, noisy or wheezy breathing; shallow breathing; weak cough; indrawing (retraction of the skin over, under and in between the ribs), use of accessory muscles to help with breathing; nasal flaring (enlargement of the nostrils during breathing); extension of the neck backwards to try to breathe in air; continuously crying; agitation; anxiety; scared look on your child’s face; pale skin; blue color of lips and nail beds

Vomiting during the aspiration of secretions

Nosebleeds after nasopharyngeal aspiration

Prolonged cough or spasms of cough during aspiration of nasopharygeal or tracheobronchial secretions

Pallor (paleness), blue lips or blue nails; oxygen desaturation, as indicated by a monitor

Weakness, fainting or loss of consciousness

Suction device noisy

Suction device not working

Do not hesitate to contact your child’s healthcare team for any questions or for specific advice related to your child’s condition.

When to consult your healthcare team


  • Secretions are blood-tinged, bloody or red coloured.

During suctioning

  • Aspiration of secretions is difficult or impossible.
  • Insertion of the aspiration catheter is difficult or impossible.
  • Your child vomits during aspiration of secretions.
  • Your child’s nose starts to bleed after nasopharyngeal aspiration of secretions.
  • Your child coughs without stopping after nasopharyngeal or tracheobronchial aspiration of secretions.


  • The suction machine is excessively noisy.
  • The suction machine does not work.

General condition

  • The oxygen saturation monitor indicates that your child has a lower saturation than usual.
  • Your child feels unwell or very tired or has any of the following symptoms: crying more than usual, agitation, anxiety, looks frightened, pale, lips or fingernails are bluish, weakness, fainting, etc.

Your child’s healthcare team will take the opportunity during your child’s follow-up appointments to review your child’s care and equipment. Adjustments will be made as required.

Do not hesitate to refer to your child’s healthcare team for any questions or for specific advice related to your child’s condition.