Yes, the tip fits within the plastic tubing at one end; the vacuum cup of the suction machine is at the other end of the plastic tubing.
This mucus issue is so foreign to those who don’t have to live with this condition. In some ways it is like being water-boarded. I use my machine frequently, once or twice a day. I have seen others actually take it with them and use it as needed in public. When I use the machine, I do it very carefully using the right lighting and a mirror. I only suction what I can see and I have to be careful about not triggering my gag reflex.
If mucus is building up below your partner’s vocal cords, I agree with the advice you have been given. Having someone other than a skilled professional use a suction machine close to one’s vocal cords feels dangerous and could damage the cords. Not a good thing.
Here’s two words you may hear in conjunction with a swallow, penetration and aspiration. Neither are good, but one is worse than the other. Penetration is material (food, saliva, liquid, mucus) entering the airway, but staying above the vocal cords. Aspiration is material going past the vocal cords where the next stop is the lungs. People with head and neck cancer treatment are at high risk of aspiration which can lead to life threatening conditions such as aspiration pneumonia. Not everyone who aspirates gets pneumonia, but it is more common in this cancer population than the general population. The vocal cords are our body’s last defense against aspiration. The primary natural defense in a working swallow is the epiglottis.
One way to help stay healthy is to continue to exercise the lungs through aerobic exercise and even walking. If it feels like liquid (or mucus) is entering the airway, cough it up. This isn’t always pretty in a public setting, but it may make the difference between staying healthy and becoming ill.
Good question by the way. I hope this helps. Take care.