PSP Association
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Mucus suction machine?


Does anyone have experience with a mucus suction machine?

I bought one for my dad, who is in advanced PSP stage and has a PEG tube (this one, but under a different name -

It's pretty good so far (used it 3 times, has adjustable pressure and you can use a disposable pipe at the end (called suction catheter) - it has different gauges - I used 12 or or 16 or 18 - these are bigger in diameter

I tried using it with my dad a couple of times but he hates it and tries to bite it - I don't want to force since I don't want him to feel undignified or insulted - plus I cannot push it too near the throat in case I might injure it

I looked for some online videos but they are not so helpful - I will check with some doctor as well but meanwhile can someone please share their own experience, if you've had it with a mucus suction machine?


14 Replies

I used a suction machine with my dad.the build up with mucus was terrible.i was frightened at first to use the end my dad tried to pull it of me to do it himself.the more I got used to it.the deeper i went.i think they sense your fear.the machine was a massive help.before I got the machine I noticed right at the back on the roof of his mouth,it looked like a huge yellowish sore,someone on here told me it was dried mucus.i gently picked at the edges with a cocktail stick and it peeled away.he was so relieved.i also used a tongue scraper to drag out very stubborn mucus.not a nice job,after my dad passed away I had nightmares about him choking on it.good luck with everything x


Also I read on the internet about patches that reduce mucus,unfortunately by the time I knew this and the doctor prescribed it was to late,but people on the Internet said they were amazing and helped a lot x


Hi Robin, do you remember what the patches were called that the doctor prescribed?


We have a suction machine on loan from the district nurse (UK). We were told it should never be put past Cs teeth as biting down on it can damage teeth. I was also told that it is dangerous to put it anywhere near his throat as it can cause him to gag and if there is anything in the throat at the time it can be aspirated. The DN demonstrated it and then watch while I used it on C. When he coughs and when his saliva is excessive, I run it gently between his cheek and teeth and a surprising amount is extracted. I ask him to open his mouth and gunk gets sucked out without putting the tube past his teeth. His teeth usually clamp shut but stuff still gets through. I have to empty it often. I also have a jug of water nearby to suck up and clear the tube. I always wet the catheta first as I tried it on myself and dry plastic in my mouth didn't feel very nice. C has never objected to it being used and has pointed to it sometimes indicating he wants me to use it.


My wife has been on a PEG for 14 months and I personally just LOVE IT. It has kept her with me much longer than if we didn't have one inserted. She was losing weight fast, due to not eating. Within the first 45 days of use, she gained over 15 pounds and has been steady ever since. We are in the US and our insurance carrier provides the feed and the supplies via a Home Health company. The feed is called Jevity 1.5. Each can provides 355 calories. Hospitals also use this product. Her nutrionist calculated that she needs 5 cans a day, but we have only been doing 4 cans via an IV bag and IV machine (designed specifically for feeding tubes) and she gets it slowly throughout the night while she sleeps. Much easier than pouring it in using the bolus method. I don't believe this feed causes her to get too much excess mucous.

We also have a suction machine, but only have to use it on occasion, which is usually after we allow her to eat something by mouth (a big no-no for my wife, but her mom or myself will sometimes give in because we want her to enjoy some food while we're eating). We have a couple of different Yonkers (funny name, but that's what they call the piece that you insert in the mouth). One is a solid tube that's on a slight angle, making it easier to get the tip to the back of the throat. Unfortunately she does like to bite down on it, which probably isn't good for her teeth. And a couple of times I probably wasn't gentle enough and it irritated the roof of her mouth, causing it to bleed. The other Yonker that I use is a flexible tube (kinda like what they use in fish aquariums). She can bite down on this one and not cause any issues and it has never caused an issue with the roof of her mouth. I can also go much deeper down the throat. In the hospital, they use this type to do NT suction, which my wife hated. They would run the tube into her nose and get it to do down the throat and closer to the lungs. But it would get a lot of gunk out and she always felt better afterwards.

The suction machine we have is a little bigger than a shoe box. I'd really like to find a smaller handheld one that we could discretely use out in public or while in the car. We're still on the go a lot and not bedridden ... yet.

I'm going to post this on another post that deals with this issue as well.

Take care everyone and keep praying for a cure. May God bless you!


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oops ... The piece you insert is actually spelled Yankauer, but pronounced like Yonker. :-)

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I tried to "like" your post but it wouldn't let me so, thanks and uhm, "like".


Thanks very much for the detailed reply :)

Just went though a suction wrestling match with dad :) (I won without hurting or distressing him) I will reply in detail later

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Hi Sammy,

My mother is in the end-of-life stage with PSP. I have to use a suction machine frequently during a 24 hour day because she can no longer swallow her own saliva. She also has systemic candidiasis which shows up as thrush in her mouth. My mother like your dad has a PEG tube.

Having stated all the above, I would like to offer my experience with our suction machine. I was taught how to suction my mother's mouth a few years ago when her physical state was much different. She was much more mobile and still ate pureed foods but we had lots of issues with excess saliva and mucous.

I was instructed but the Nurse to never use our "DeVelbiss" suction machine over 250 mmHg to never insert or push the suction tube down her throat but rather to gently insert the bulb portion of the yankauer suction handle into her mouth and move it around in the area between her teeth and cheeks. Once the tip is inserted into my mother's mouth, I place my finger on top of the vent located on the yankauer suction handle to the count of ten to create suction. Then, I release and start over until I have completely removed the excess mucous. When I have finished suctioning, I clean the yankauer suction tips with sterile water.

I would never insert the suction tip in the back of my mother's mouth because this action can cause a person to gag and that will create the possibility of aspiration pneumonia. Note that when a person with PSP vomits you increase the risk of aspiration. Therefore, as a word of caution, do not suction the back of the throat unless you have been instructed to suction in this manner. Also keep the mmHg level on your machine reasonably low because you can damage the fragile gums and cheeks tissue. The mouth is a very area.

As far as some of the information contained in the comments below. Yes, there are drops and patches that can be used.

Atropine is an eye drop that is used to dry up secretions/mucous. It is much kinder that Scopolamine that is used to the same reasons but is harder on the body. Note that both Atropine and Scopolamine will also dry up the body's fluids.

When my mother's secretions got out of hand and we went to the ER she had the "Death Rattle' so it was great to have a medication that would dry up excess secretions and tone done the sound and prevent her from choking to death. But I soon discover that she was not wetting her pads as much as before. When the mucous in her mouth became more manageable, I reduced the Atropine drops only to notice that the frequency and quantity of urine was returning to its previous state.

Also use natural health products. You could try mixing a small amount of Pineapple juice, grated and crushed organic ginger, and a little honey to thicken (only) in a small dish and spoon fed it to your dad to reduce mucous. It works!

Hope this helps! PSP can also be helped with lots of loving care...


Just got my aunt bev one it works wonders I leave it on she uses it her self gets all that sticky stuff in the back of her throut I keep it on high and taped the hole closed so she does not have to find it she really likes it we also started using thickin I mix it in her drink and it makes it much easier to swollow and little choking

hugs Kryste


it's great that she likes it and uses it herself - my dad used to hate it and would bite the pipe...


Can u tell me what size tubing u used. I have recently bought a suction machine but ugly came with two ver fine Tubes . He needs a bigger bore because of thigh mucus , so glad I came across this thread. Very helpful .

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Hi - I am sorry I don't remember the size exactly but I remember it was mid-sized, not too small, not too big - but whichever size you choose, please check with a qualified nurse first - these things can be sharp and hard and hurt the patient... also I was recommended to use some kind of gel to smoothen the end (not sure if it helped)

Another technique I used in order to touching the throat (since my dad hated it) but was to have him lie on his side and wait all the phlegm and mucus to slide down to the inside of the cheek - once it collected after a while, I would put the suction tube, on it's side and roll and try and suck out the mucus from there - that would get rid of most of the mucus and also not cause distress - I think some patients don't have a problem with throat suctioning but it was different for my dad - I hope it works out for you

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Thank you that us very helpful


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