Treatment

9 Ways to Keep Your Airways Clear and Lungs Clean

Allison Tsai Oct 12th, 2012 (updated Jun 7th, 2016)
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If sputum is not cleared from the lungs, it can cause ongoing inflammation, which can lead to further lung damage and a further deterioration in lung function. You must keep your lungs as clear as possible to maintain lung health. Here are some tips!

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Drink water
Drink water

It's important to drink two quarts of water a day to help clear mucus. But first check with your doctor to make sure that works with the rest of your treatment plan.

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Take an expectorant or mucolytic
Take an expectorant or mucolytic

This can be ordered by your doctor, or you can take a non-prescription expectorant if your doctor says it’s okay.

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Use proper cough technique
Use proper cough technique

Sit up straight, but bending slightly forward with elbow support. A straight chair with armrests works well.

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Do not lie down when coughing
Do not lie down when coughing

Coughing is much more effective when sitting up.

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Use the Huff Cough technique
Use the Huff Cough technique

The Huff Cough technique is a series of mini-coughs as opposed to one big cough. Ask your respiratory therapist to show you.

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Ask your doctor if Percussion and Postural Drainage might help
Ask your doctor if Percussion and Postural Drainage might help

This is a process used to remove mucus from the lungs into the airways so they can be coughed out. Certain drainage positions, percussion, deep breathing and coughing are all used in this technique.

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Use an airway clearance device
Use an airway clearance device

Your doctor or respiratory therapist might recommend the use of a hand-held mechanism that vibrates and loosens the mucous to make it easier to cough out. There are several devices available, all requiring a prescription. The most common are Acapella® and Flutter®, although there are others.

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Take time for your bronchial hygiene
Take time for your bronchial hygiene

Just as you take time to wash your face or brush your teeth each day, take the time to for your lungs.

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Keep your lungs clean and clear of excess mucous
Keep your lungs clean and clear of excess mucous

Coughing up mucous, unpleasant as it is, is essential when you have COPD. Do all you can to clear that junk from your lungs this fall and winter so you can stay as healthy as possible with COPD.