Keeping the Airways Clear
People with COPD or NTM often have excess mucus in their lungs, which makes breathing more difficult. Devices such as the Acapella, the Flutter Valve, and the Vest may be recommended by the doctor. These handheld devices or the Vest help clear mucus from the lungs by creating a vibration in the airways. This keeps the airways open and moves mucus up and out.
Other ways to clear mucus from the lungs are:
- diaphragmatic (di-a-fram-atic) breathing and huff coughing
- special positioning of the body to help drain mucus--called postural drainage or bronchial drainage. Uses gravity to drain mucus from the smaller to the larger airways where it can be coughed out more easily. Ask the doctor or therapist what specific positions may be helpful for the person in your care.
- rhythmic clapping of the chest, back, and ribs can be done while the person is positioned for airway clearance. Clapping or percussion is done over the ribs with cupped hands to help loosen mucus in the airways. There are some mechanical devices available to help with the therapy. Ask the doctor or therapist how to do this type of therapy.
- be sure the person in your care drinks enough fluid every day; this keeps the mucus thin (these fluids should be caffeine free and alcohol free).