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Home > Health & Fitness > Healthwise > Cystic Fibrosis: Helping Your Child Cough Up Mucus
Cystic fibrosis causes
mucus to become thick and sticky, which can clog the
lungs and cause serious problems. You can help your child maintain lung
function and avoid complications from mucus buildup and blockage by performing
an airway clearance technique (ACT). Postural drainage and chest percussion (PD
& P) is one of several airway clearance techniques that help clear mucus
from your child's lungs.
It is important for your child to visit his or her doctor
regularly and make any needed changes in treatment.
There are several
postural drainage positions. The different positions help drain mucus from
different sections of the lungs. All people who have cystic fibrosis should
do all the positions except babies, who should not be placed in the
head-down position ("tipping"). Tipping a baby can cause reflux, which is when
the contents of the stomach enter the esophagus.
Talk to your
doctor or your
respiratory therapist before starting PD & P. He
or she can show you how the treatment is done and tell you how often and how
long the treatment should be. Most doctors recommend that PD & P be done at
least once a day.
PD & P is a time-consuming process. It
usually takes 20 to 30 minutes. In general, a baby or small child who has no
symptoms of congestion may require less treatment time than an older child who
sounds congested and is coughing a lot.
At first, PD & P can
seem complicated. But with help and practice, the treatment becomes easier,
especially when you notice the benefits to your child. It is important to do
these exercises exactly as instructed.
Egan M (2011). Cystic fibrosis. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 1481–1497. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Current as of:
June 11, 2013
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Catherine O'Malley, RRT - Respiratory Therapy
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