COPD can cause your lungs to produce excess mucus, leading to frequent coughing. Not all coughs are effective in clearing excess mucus from the lungs. Explosive or uncontrolled coughing causes airways to collapse and spasm, trapping mucus.
The effective, or controlled, cough comes from deep within the lungs and has just enough force to loosen and carry mucus through the airways without causing them to narrow and collapse. Controlled coughing saves energy and therefore, oxygen.
To cough effectively:
If you have trouble coughing up secretions, your physician may prescribe a hand-held mucus clearing device. These devices include the Flutter device, the Acapella® (known as the ‘pickle’), the RC Cornet®, Lung Flute (lungflute®), and the Aerobika®.
To use these devices, place a mouthpiece in your mouth, seal your lips around it, and take a deep breath using your diaphragm. Breathe out slowly with a moderate force through the device for as long as you can. The increased pressure in the airways and the oscillations created by the device will give you the feeling to cough. When you feel the urge to cough, take a deep breath in, hold for 1-3 seconds and cough to loosen the mucus.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 09/14/2018