Living with COPD isn’t easy. Not only are the airways constricted, but the air sacs that transfer oxygen(and remove carbon dioxide) from the blood are damaged. Mucus in the airways only makes the problem worse. The good news is that there are several techniques and medicines that may help remove mucus and phlegm (pronounced flem).
- Coughing: COPD patients can have a hard time mustering the strength to cough effectively. This is due to the fact that COPD itself causes shortness of breath. The good news is that you can teach yourself how to cough effectively and it’s probably the one of the best way to clear mucus / phlegm from your throat. Here are some coughing exercises you can practice to get you started.
- Chest Physiotherapy (CPT): This basically using patting and vibrations on your chest to help the mucus out. Many physiotherapists are qualified in CPT and can show you how to do it at home.
- Postural Drainage: This is often use with chest physiotherapy. It involves positioning yourself so gravity helps you get the mucus out. There are 12 different positions that can help (depending on where the mucus is located in your lungs).
- Expectorants: Expectorants are a type of medicine (available over the counter and with a prescription) that loosen the mucus in your lungs and help you cough it out.
- Mucolytics: Mucolytics are available over the counter (OTC) or with a prescription. They help loosen thick mucus and make it easier to get out of your airways. Mucolytics are currently not a standard treatment option for COPD patients (according to GOLD), but some COPD patients do report they work well.