If your child has a lung disease such as cystic fibrosis, he may have a lot of mucus in the lungs. If the mucus builds up in your child’s airways, it can be hard to breathe. It also makes it easier to get infections. Airway clearance techniques (ACTs) are ways to loosen thick, sticky mucus so it can be coughed up and cleared out of the lungs.
There are many airway clearance techniques. Most are easy to do. Your child’s healthcare provider will work with you to decide which are best for your child. Your provider will probably refer to you a respiratory therapist. Respiratory therapists have special training in lung and breathing problems. The therapist will help you and your child learn how to perform the techniques.
Some of these techniques your child can learn to do, and some require special equipment or a trained person to help. The techniques that your child can usually perform by himself include:
Techniques that require equipment or another person to help your child include:
Ask your child’s healthcare provider what techniques or exercises will work best for your child.
When trying to loosen and cough up mucus, make sure that your child drinks enough fluids to stay well hydrated. If your child is not getting enough fluids, the mucus will be stickier and harder to cough up. Ask your child’s healthcare provider how much your child should drink each day. Your child’s provider may also recommend medicine, such as guaifenesin, to help keep mucus thin and easier to cough up. ACTs are often used with other treatments, such as inhaled medicines (bronchodilators).
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