Before starting airway clearance techniques


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It can be helpful before chest clearance techniques to:

  • Stay hydrated: to get the most out of using chest clearance techniques the patient/client must drink enough fluid (not alcohol). When dehydrated, the sputum becomes thick, sticky and difficult to clear.
  • Exercise: turning over in bed, standing up from the chair, walking, cycling, running, jumping on a trampoline, whatever the level of fitness, movement, position change and activity which causes increased breathing will help mobilise secretions.
  • Open up the airways: take a bronchodilator inhaler or nebuliser with a drug such as Salbutamol which will open up the airways.
  • Nebulised saline: may help to loosen the mucus.
  • Tissues: be prepared with something to cough into such as a tissue or pot with a lid.
  • Clear the upper airway: cough up any sputum at the back of the throat and ask them to blow their nose.
  • Good posture: this will allow the muscles that help with breathing to work as well as they can and also limit the downward pressure onto the pelvic floor muscles which can help avoid stress urinary incontinence.