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Discharge Instructions: Coughing Techniques

Airway clearance techniques help to remove mucus from the airways. Clearing the airways helps to improve breathing and lessen the chance of infection. One method is controlled coughing. Be sure to also use any medicines before or after clearing your airways, as instructed by your healthcare provider. For example, some people use inhaled bronchodilators before clearing their airways. 

Note: Be sure to keep a box of tissues beside you. Wash your hands when you are done.

Controlled coughing

Here is how to do it: 

  • Sit on a chair with both feet on the floor.

  • Take a slow, deep breath through your nose and hold for 2 counts.

  • Lean forward slightly.

  • Cough twice—2 short coughs.

  • Relax for a few seconds.

Repeat the steps as needed. 

The “huff” technique

Here is how to do it: 

  • Sit on a chair with both feet on the floor.

  • Take a slow, deep breath through your nose and hold for 2 counts.

  • To exhale, open your mouth and make a “huff” sound in your throat. (This is the same way you might breathe to clean a pair of eyeglasses.)

  • Huff 2 to 3 times as you exhale.

  • Relax for a few seconds.

Repeat the steps as needed.       

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing

  • Increased mucus

  • Yellow, green, bloody, or smelly mucus

  • Fever or chills

  • Tightness in your chest that does not go away with rest or medicine

  • An irregular heartbeat

 

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