clearing chest: I went to see a... - British Lung Foun...

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clearing chest


I went to see a respiratory physio yesterday who talked about the importance of clearing the chest of mucus daily but not necessarily coughing it up. I did ask her twice about this but still feel a bit unclear as to whether coughing/huffing on its own could be described as "clearing chest". I understood that breaking up the mucus, rather than leaving it sticking to the walls of chest, was good enough if a patient couldn't bring much up. More information about this would be gratefully received. Thank you!

12 Replies

Never heard that in all my 71 years of physiotherapy. If it is not expelled or swallowed then surely it will settle back into the lungs!


Absolutely agree with cofdrop. Of course it has to come out or it will just go back into the nooks and crannies and the bugs will have a party in it. Get going with the breathing, huffing and COUGHING it out. Think that physio must have been on loan from another department not respiratory.

I was advised to cough it up but was also prescribed Carbocistine which has been excellent at getting rid of mucus( no more coughing it up.


Much as I hate coughing this up all blinkin day, I would go with the saying its better out than in, the thought of this horrid gunk staying inside doesnt bare thinking about, get rid of it x

Well, you've had the right answers, the gunge has to be expelled. My physio showed me the huffing method followed by the acapella. This had worked well for me for over a year. Then around November 2019 I found there was no phlegm to cough up. I called it a dry spell and thought no more of it. I had also been on long term nebulized colomycin and thought it had probably done its job. In the meantime, I was told to at least try each day to expell some as apparently there would still be some skulking somewhere. I found it so hard, trying to huff with no results and eventually gave up trying. Then about two weeks ago I picked up a chest infection, and boy, did the phlegm return. It did, with a vengeance! I am feeling much better now after taking my rescue pack of antibiotics. However, the moral of my story is that even though it's so wearing at times, to try to expel the mucous, we have to try. Even a little tiny bit removed is a little less in our lungs. I shall now go back to my daily morning routine of huffing, knowing its helping me in the long term.

Out of interest I have been taken off the colomycin as there's a possibility it has given me peripheral neuropathy. (Its being investigsted) As I'm not taking anything for my bronchiectasis at the moment I'm wondering if this has also contributed to me getting a lung infection as up until now I have been so lucky and haven't had one for over a year.

Keep Huffing. Chrys

I was interested in what you had to say and can imagine your "dry spell" because I have them daily and then without warning will have a loose coughing fit which seems to stir the mucus into action again. Often this happens when I am out walking or in a place where it is not convenient to start huffing so I just have to let it go. One respiratory physio told me that "we don't mind you swallowing mucus because that goes into your stomach and not back into your lungs" . However, having read what other sufferers have to say I am beginning to wonder if I heard right. I am sure I did though. What does colomycin do? It is a medication I haven't had. At the moment I am using Dymista nasal spray which appears to have lessened my coughing but not sure why. Possibly, it is because I also suffer with rhinitis which this spray is supposed to help.

Hi again, It's good to hear of similar problems and the difficulties experienced. We really are all in the same boat.

I suffer with rhinitis too. It is something that many sufferers of bronchiectasis also have to deal with. Post nasal drip is another and acid reflex too. I have them all unfortunately.

I have been deaf in one ear for about 16 years - all linked to the many problem aboveb. It has got to me over the past year as I am involved in a number of organisations and social groups. You miss out so much. I saw my original ENT consultant before Christmas to see if anything more could be done. This time he agreed to drain my ears and fit grommetts. He couldn't promise my ears would not fill up again and the deafness return. but I have nothing to lose by trying. I will be having the operation very soon so hopefully I won't get another chest infection or the op. will be postponed. Anyway, I'm crossing my fingers all goes well.

By the way, swallowing the phlegm won't hurt. The strong acid in your stomach will deal with it all. My specialist told me that too. Keep Huffing. Chrys

Hello, I think I can explain the confusion about coughing the mucous up. I have been attending a pulmonary rehabilitation course for the past few weeks (It lasts for 6 weeks twice a week) Each week, beside exercises, we have a slot to educste us on all aspects of bronchiectasis.

Last week we covered ways of expelling the mucous from our lungs. The physiotherapist explained that we must clear our lungs daily using a number of different methods, However, she said that just trying to cough up phlegm whenever we feel we should isn't always a useful way of doing it. And can be very wearing if the mucous isn't loose in the first place. Also it doesn't have to be in the morning (which I thought was important). Let your body tell you the best time to do it she said. During the day we do all sorts of things, exercise, walking, housework or just moving around for example. These kinds of activities help to loosen the phlegm naturally, . It is then we should use our method of choice to expell or cough up the mucous. Wait until you feel it is the right time for you and it won't prove difficult to remove it then. You may find you can do it a number of times throughout the day then and with little difficulty.

I would recommend going on one of these courses to anyone who suffers with a lung disease. It's educating and very enjoyable.

I found your rehabilitation story very helpful as can believe in what your therapist said. I am finding now, after using several medications and trying breathing exercises, that waiting for "the right time" gives better results and suits me better. My cough definitely loosens after activity so it is the best time to try and get rid of mucus. I do have another appointment with a respiratory physio in a few weeks time so I will be able to mention what I feel is best for me when I see her. I have also found simple steam inhalation helps to loosen mucus but it is just the coughing it up which is my problem. I do worry about coughing too much because have a hernia which I know coughing doesn't help. We all seem to suffer with other complaints too, don't we?

Hi, I'm so glad you found it useful. It's a lot to take in when you are newly diagnosed. I hadn't heard of bronchiectasis either, before my diagnosis.

You mention you will be seeing your respirstory physio soon. Why not ask if there are any Pulmonary Rehabilitation courses in your area. I have found it very helpful and have only been on it for four sessions with eight more to go.

What medication are you taking at the moment and how long have you had your diagnosis?

Although I was diagnosed about five years ago nobody told me about this Forum and It was pure luck that I found it by accident. I joined last June. If you stay tuned you will begin to acquire information about your condition bit by bit. You will also become much more familiar with the people who post reguIary. I also think you will find it is one of the best things that could have happened to you....finding this Forum. Nice to hear from you anyway and I look forward to reading other posts you may send us. Best wishes, Chrys

Only Dymista nasal spray at the moment but don't think it is helping very much. Have had Carbocisteine but didn't find that helped either. Must be me because I haven't found anything a great help really. I was diagnosed about five years ago too, together with a lung infection brought on by a nasty bug. Wouldn't it be lovely to go back to a time when we were young and healthy and didn't have to worry about respiratory problems?

Go online and tap in Dymista reviews. You may find it interesting.

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