graphic image showing health worker using a suction machine to clear secretions from mouth


You have a suction machine to keep your chest healthy. Secretions are the saliva and mucus that gather in your mouth, this is normal. These secretions are usually cleared from your mouth when you swallow. If you are not able to clear your own secretions, a suction machine can help you.

Non-urgent advice: Getting ready to use your suction machine

First, get the following items so you have them all ready and nearby.

 • Gloves

 • Clean, cold water

 • Suction tubing

 • Yankeur

 • Suction machine

How to use your suction machine
  • First, wash your hands and put your gloves on.
  • Attach the yankeur to the tubing.
  • Attach the tubing to the machine.
  • Make sure the lid of the collecting container is on tightly.
  • The strength of suction can be adjusted, start low and gradually increase if needed.
  • Remember that powerful suction could damage the delicate skin inside the mouth.
  • Switch the suction machine on.
  • Point the yankeur to the secretions and then cover the hole on the yanker with your thumb to start the suction.
  • Only suction the secretions that you can see, do not suction towards the back of the mouth and throat.
  • Direct the suction towards the secretions and not the skin.
  • Some people hold their breath when they are having suction. So, remember to stop suctioning regularly to allow for a rest.
  • Never suction for more than 15 seconds at a time.
  • When you have finished, clean the inside of the yankeur and the tubing by sucking up some of the clean water.
  • The tube should look clean when you have finished, if it doesn’t, suction some more water until it does.
  • You should use your suction machine as often as needed.
  • Your suction machine is portable, you may need to take it out with you.
How to clean your suction machine

The suction machine should be unplugged from the electricity supply before cleaning.

  • The suction machine should be cleaned at least once a week, or if it looks dirty. 
  • Wipe it over with a clean cloth and warm soapy water.
  • Empty the collecting container regularly.
  • Clean the collecting container, the tubing and yankeur with warm soapy water.
  • When not in use, keep the yankeur covered.
  • The yankeur and tubing can be replaced if they look damaged or discoloured, this will depend on how often you use the machine.
  • Change the filter regularly, this will depend on how often you use the machine.  You will also need to change the filter if it gets wet.
  • Call the number on the machine to ask for help or speak to the person who gave you it, if you have any problems.

Top Tips

  • Your machine may look a little different to the one in the video but it will work the same. 
  • Refer to the manual that came with your machine if needed. 
  • Always have your suction machine set up and ready to use. 
  • Make sure your machine is kept fully charged  
  •  Make sure the tubing is securely attached and that the lid of the collecting container is firmly on.  If there are any air leaks the machine will not work very well. 
  • Do not suction for more than 10 seconds as it is tempting to hold your breath during suction. 
  • It can feel strange when you first start to use your machine. 
  • You can stop at any time.
  • If you can, agree a signal with the person who is helping you that means you want to stop
  • Take note of the colour, amount and thickness of the secretions, any changes to what is normal for you could indicate a change in your health.  Discuss these changes with your GP or other health professional if you are not sure.
  • Stop if there are any signs of distress, irregular breathing, coughing or bleeding
  • If you have any problems get in touch with the person who gave you your machine.