- is the sputum thin or loose enough for it to move effectively?
can we generate enough airflow to different parts of the lungs to help move it?
- can the we generate enough expiratory airflow (the force of the breath out) to effectively move the sputum to the larger airways?
is the cough strong enough?
Remember that hydration plays an important factor is keeping sputum loose. Not only is drinking water beneficial for your overall health but it also helps to keep mucus thinner and make airway clearance easier. Try to drink as much water as you can on a daily basis. Aim for the standard guidelines of 2-3 litres a day. Younger children will need less than this, around 1 –1,7 litres a day. Remember that caffeinated drinks and alcohol do not count.
Exercise is also a brilliant form of airway clearance. As well as having beneficial effects on fitness levels, muscles, bone structure and posture, it also complements airway clearance and helps to keep the chest clear. We think this is normally because of the impact of feet on ground (trampolining is even better!) and changes in airflow within the lungs when we exercise.
This is very much down to each individual as there is no “one size fits all”.
It can vary from one session a day to multiple times each day, especially if there is an active infection. How long each session will last is also dependent on the amount of secretions at the time. 10-15 minutes may be all that’s required if there are small amounts of secretions but longer sessions will be needed if large amounts of sputum is present.