Controlled coughing is a technique that uses just enough force to loosen and carry mucus through the airways without causing them to narrow and collapse. Clearing the airways helps you breathe better and lowers the chance for infection. For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this saves energy, breathing capacity and is essential to expelling mucus build up.
How does controlled coughing help COPD patients?
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 and exacerbating symptoms.
Coughing can be disruptive to daily life for COPD sufferers, interrupting social events, work presentations, the ability to relax outdoors or fall asleep easily at night and so on. However, treating coughing solely as a symptom and not as strategy to expel mucus can prolong discomfort through ineffective coughing. Learning how to deep cough may allow COPD patients to breathe more easily.
How often should COPD patients cough?
Cough is often the first symptom of COPD. The cough may occur every day, even if there are no other symptoms of illness. Controlled coughing is a voluntary and intentional exercise to focus on expelling stibborn phlegm from the lungs and airways. Controlled coughing should be a daily practice for at least 5-10 minutes a day or as needed, depending on the severity of symptoms.
How do you practise a controlled cough?
- Firstly sit upright on a chair or on the edge of your bed, with both feet on the floor. Lean slightly forward. Relax.
- Fold your arms across your abdomen and breathe in slowly through your nose.
- Lean forward, pressing your arms against your abdomen and exhale. Cough 2-3* times through a slightly open mouth. Coughs should be short and sharp. The first cough loosens the mucus and moves it through the airways. The second and third cough enables you to cough the mucus up and out.
- Breathe in again by inhaling slowly and gently through your nose. This gentle breath helps prevent mucus from moving back down your airways.
- Rest and perform again if needed.
Risks and Considerations
Patients with severe muscular wasting or other complications from COPD may have trouble practice controlled coughing. They may need to seek help from a cough assist device to support airway clearance. For patients with diagnosed COPD, it is always a good idea to discuss a treatment plan with your doctor tailored to your needs.
You should also ensure you have some tissues or a bin on hand while performing controlled coughing exercises, so you have somewhere to deposit any secretions that are dislodged from your chest. Once these have been coughed up, you don’t want to keep them in your throat or mouth for lung to avoid discomfort or choking.
How do I ensure my airways have been cleared?
In addition to controlled coughing, it is a good idea to use a breathing exercise device to make sure you have dislodged and expelled all stubborn mucus and phlegm from your airways.
The Turboforte Lung Physio is a drug-free, airway clearance device that can help you if you have trouble coughing up secretions. It is very simple to use; firstly, you place the 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 and watch the steel ball rise.
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. Keep tissues on hand to capture any dislodged phlegm.
What other exercises can help alleviate COPD symptoms?
Daily exercise can improve overall lung health and function, specifally:
- low-impact aerobics
- light jogging
- resistance training (with hand weights or bands)
Read more on the best exercises for lung health here.
Found this helpful? Check out more of our lung health tips and tricks here.
While Turboforte is a drug-free, all-natural way to help and can be used in conjunction with your usual treatment regime, always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read that contradicts your doctor’s personal advice.
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