Mucus. Phlegm. Sputum. No matter what you call it, if it is in your lungs, you want to get it out.
Some people who live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD only deal with mucus or phlegm when they have a chest cold or exacerbation, while others deal with mucus daily. Often, people with chronic lung conditions come to COPD360social and ask what they can do to help their cough. So, let’s talk about it here to make it easy for people to do a quick search.
One thing to remember when you want to cough and remove mucus from your lungs is that you need to be well-hydrated. I love to drink tea, coffee, and soft drinks – but guess what? That isn’t the same as drinking good old-fashioned water. Water can keep the mucus thin and easier to cough up. Of course, if you are supposed to limit your fluid intake, you can talk to your doctor about adding a medication that can help keep the mucus thin without adding too much liquid to your diet.
Another tip to consider is to let gravity help you clear out your lungs. It may sound too simple, but if you have chest congestion that is hard to cough up, try a technique called postural drainage. All you need to do is lie down on the bed or couch with pillows under your hips so that your head is lower than your body. While you are in that position, take some deep breaths and cough. This technique can be done lying on your back, stomach, or on your sides to help you move mucus from all different parts of your lungs. You may be surprised at how much more effective your cough can be.
The last tip is one that is important for several reasons. What do you think it is? The answer is exercise or activity. Being active and moving your body whether you have COPD, bronchiectasis, or another chronic lung condition is a great way to loosen up mucus and make it easier to cough up. We talk a lot about the importance of exercise and how it helps you build strength, but exercise and activity can play a key role in keeping your airways clear.
Have you learned other ways to deal with a cough? What tips and tricks do you use to keep your airways clear?