Airway Clearance

Airway Clearance

Airway clearance techniques (ACTs) loosen thick, sticky mucus so it can be cleared from your lungs by coughing or huffing. Clearing the airways may help decrease lung infections and improve lung function.

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Basics of Lung Care

Although cystic fibrosis affects many parts of the body, the focus is often on the lungs because of the disease's effect on breathing. 

6 min read

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Airway Clearance Techniques (ACTs)

There are different ways to clear your airways. Most are easy to do. Infants and toddlers will need help from a parent or caregiver. Older kids and adults can choose airway clearance techniques (ACTs) that they can do on their own.

2 min read

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Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT)

Active cycle of breathing technique (ACBT) combines different breathing techniques that help clear mucus from the lungs in three phases. The first phase helps you relax your airways. The second phase helps you to get air behind mucus and clears mucus. The third phase helps force the mucus out of your lungs.

2 min read

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Autogenic Drainage (AD)

Autogenic drainage (AD) means “self-drainage” and uses different speeds of breathing to move mucus. To do it, your respiratory therapist can teach you how to control your breaths. You will learn how fast and deeply to breathe to fill certain parts of your lungs with air. AD can take some practice and is usually recommended for people age 8 and older. 

2 min read

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Chest Physical Therapy

Chest physical therapy (CPT or Chest PT) is an airway clearance technique (ACT) to drain the lungs, and may include percussion (clapping), vibration, deep breathing, and huffing or coughing.  

10 min read

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Coughing and Huffing

Coughing is the most basic airway clearance technique (ACT). It can be an involuntary reflex or it can be controlled as a healthy, natural way for the lungs to get rid of mucus

2 min read

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High-Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (the Vest)

High-frequency chest wall oscillation involves an inflatable vest that is attached to a machine. The machine mechanically performs chest physical therapy by vibrating at a high frequency. The vest vibrates the chest to loosen and thin mucus. Every five minutes, the person stops the machine and coughs or huffs.

2 min read

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Positive Expiratory Pressure

Positive expiratory pressure (PEP) therapy gets air into the lungs and behind the mucus using extra (collateral) airways.

3 min read