By ACCORDANT HEALTH SERVICES
Airway clearance techniques (ACTs) loosen thick, sticky mucus so it can be cleared from the lungs. ACTs help the lungs to work better. If you have CF, ACTs can help you stay healthy and breathe easier. ACTs should begin when CF is diagnosed and should go on for the rest of life.
Most ACTs are easy to do. Here are the daily ACTs most often used by those with CF:
Coughing and Huffing
The most basic ACT is a natural one--coughing. Coughing is a reflex that moves mucus from the lungs in a forceful way. People with CF cough much more than other people. Most healthy people cough less than 16 times a day. People with CF cough an average of 643 times a day. Some cough as often as 1,569 times a day. Coughing so much can be tiring!
After an ACT, a person must cough to clear their airway. Many people use a huff cough after an ACT. Huffing is a gentle, less tiring way to cough. Huffing is done by tightening the stomach muscles, taking a deep breath, and then pushing air out fast, with the mouth open. Coughing this way has been compared to what we do when we "huff" on a mirror to fog it up.
Chest Physical Therapy (CPT)
Chest physical therapy (CPT) is the standard way to clear the airways. CPT is also called chest PT or PD & P (postural drainage and percussion). All people with CF can benefit from CPT. CPT most often calls for the help of some other person. Some adults can do it alone with the help of a percussion tool.
CPT clears the airways by mixing five techniques:
If a drug to open airways has been prescribed, it should be used before CPT. If an aerosol antibiotic has been prescribed, it should be used after CPT to treat the opened airways.>>
CPT takes about 20 to 40 minutes. It should be done before meals or an hour and a half to two hours after a meal. Many people find that the best times to do this ACT are in the early morning and again before bed. During illness, CPT may need to be done more than twice a day.
Some ACTs use special devices. These ACTs can be done as well as, or instead of, CPT. They work as well as CPT and do not call for the help of some other person.
Two types of breathing techniques are used to clear the airways:
People must be trained to do AD. It can be hard to learn. It is best for those over age 8 who focus well. If you want to try AD, your doctor may suggest using PEP or oscillating PEP along with it.
|Word||How to Say it||What it Means|
|Expiratory||ek-SPI-ra-tor-e||Related to breathing out air from the lungs|
|Oscillating||AH-sil-ate-ing||Moving back and forth; vibrating|
|Percussion||per-KUH-shun||Tapping on a body part. In airway clearance, the technique of pounding on the chest with a cupped hand|
|Portable||POR-ta-bul||Can be carried or moved|
|Postural||PAHS-chur||The position of the body|
|Technique||tek-NEK||A method for doing something|
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Last Modified Date: March 19, 2009 © Accordant Health Services, a CVS/Caremark company. All rights reserved.
This article has been reviewed for accuracy by a member of the Accordant Health Services Medical Advisory Team.
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