CF Awareness Month: Airway Clearance

Airway clearance is a big part of life with CF.  There are many different ways to do airway clearance.  Pictured are a few handheld devices.  All of these you either inhaled into to expand your lungs or you breathe into to help vibrate the lungs, which loosens up mucus and makes you cough.  There is also the vest, which, I use.  There are others not pictured or mentioned.  The goal of airway clearance is to loosen up all the mucus in the lungs so that you can cough it out.  It only has one way out and we have to work for it.  I joke that I wish I had a spit release valve, like on a trumpet, so that I could open it and blow it all out.  It is a lot of work coughing out all the junk.  We don’t have control over when we cough.  Well I should say that doesn’t mean that we sure don’t try to control it.  My husband likes to park in the “back 40” in parking lots.  When he pulls in the spot he says, “AIRWAY CLEARANCE!” (in a sweet singing voice)  Exercise is also another great form of airway clearance. 

Some CFers dislike the VEST and prefer the old standard of clapping (PD&C=postural drainage and clapping).  That is where you lay down or sit up (depends on what you prefer) and someone claps with cupped hands on your back and sides to help loosen the stuff up so you can cough it out.  When I was growing up we called it “beating,” heck we still do.  Many times I would hear my mom says, “Shannon, come here I need to beat you.”  I have been known to ask my husband to beat me.  The kids like to joke that “dad beats Shannon and she takes drugs.”  There is also a percussor (pictured below) that does the same thing as clapping through vibration.  It vibrates the lungs to loosen the junk so make it easier to cough out.

day12 airway clearance day12 airway clearance1 day12 airway clearance2 day12 airway clearance3cf2clapping

Percussion/vibrator

Percussion/vibrator

 

The bottom line is, anyway you get the junk out is good.  You do what works for you.  There are a lot of options and each person with CF is different.  We all like different things.  Some things work for some but not others.  You have to find what works and stick with it.

 

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