Clearing sputum

In some respiratory diseases:

  • Patient/client can produce more sputum or mucus than is usual.
  • It can be difficult to shift and cough up.
  • The mucus becomes thicker and stickier if infection is present or the patient is dehydrated.
  • It can clog up the airways making breathing feel more difficult.
  • Lots of coughing can be tiring , painful, sore, causes more breathlessness, wheezing and bladder leakage.

To overcome this and relieve symptoms a respiratory physiotherapist or specialist nurse can teach airway or chest clearance techniques. The techniques help to clear the sputum or mucus from the airways more effectively with as little coughing as possible.

Airway clearance techniques should be practised daily to prevent infection when the patient/client is well and to help ease symptoms when they have an exacerbation or flare up of their condition. Techniques include:

  • The Active Cycle of Breathing.
  • Autogenic drainage.
  • Use of positive expiratory pressure devices.