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Airway clearance techniques

Airway clearance techniques are different types of breathing exercises that help you to get mucus out of your lungs.

Ideally your doctor will refer you to a respiratory (chest) physiotherapist who will show you how to use these techniques. Your physiotherapist  will recommend how often you should do these techniques and will adjust them to meet your needs.

Below are some short video clips that demonstrate some of these techniques.

Active cycle of breathing

The main airway clearance technique is the Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT).

Positioning to help the mucus drain (autogenic drainage)

This is a breathing technique used to clear different levels of the lung and help you to breathe better.
Autogenic drainage can be difficult to explain in words. It is important that you are first shown how to do this by your physiotherapist as sections may be tailored to your needs.

Hand-held devices to help with airway clearance

There are a number of devices that can help you to clear your airways. The following film shows one of these devices called Acapella.

Once you have been shown how to do these techniques, you should continue to practise them regularly to prevent the mucus building up in your airway and to reduce your risk of getting a chest infection.