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Maintaining Pulmonary Hygiene

Feb2021image008Pulmonary hygiene refers to exercises and procedures that can help people clear their airways of mucus and other secretions. These exercises can be extremely helpful to those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

There are many methods and approaches to pulmonary hygiene, some of which can be done at home and others that require a visit to a healthcare provider.Here are some pulmonary hygiene activities and how you can get the best out of them.

  • Breathing exercises — These exercises can relax airways after a coughing fit or help clear them without the need for a big cough. Two exercises that can help with pulmonary hygiene are relaxed breathing and huffing.
  • Suctioning — In this method, a thin tube called a suctioning catheter is attached to a device that pulls air through a tube while the other end sucks secretions out of your airways. This procedure can be a little uncomfortable — but it only lasts about 15 seconds and you will get a break in between if you require more than one session.
  • Spirometry — An incentive spirometer is a clear device with a flexible tube attached to it. At the other end is a mouthpiece for a person to inhale and exhale. A tiny ball or other indicator goes up and down inside the spirometer as you exhale. Your healthcare provider will explain how to use the device properly.
  • Percussion — Also called clubbing or clapping, percussion can be done at home — but requires the help of another person to break up secretions in the lungs by striking your chest or back with cupped hands. This method should not be used on someone who is frail or dealing with sore ribs.
  • Vibration — Similar to percussion, vibration can also break up lung secretions — but is done with flat palms instead of cupped hands. The person performing the procedure keeps one arm straight, with the palm of the hand on your chest or back. Then they place the other hand on top of the flat hand and move it rapidly from side to side to create a vibration.
  • Postural drainage — This relies on gravity to clear out airways and can be performed in a number positions depending on what area needs to be cleared. To improve breathing in your lower lungs, for example, lie on your back with pillows underneath your hips.

Read the whole story to learn more about pulmonary hygiene.