Cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are just some of the conditions that cause a person to experience breathing difficulties. If you are suffering from any of these conditions, keep an eye out for symptoms! If these symptoms worsen, an ineffective airway clearance diagnosis and care plan should be put in place with the assessment and interventions from your nurse.
What is an ineffective airway clearance?
For a concise definition, a published journal defines ineffective airway clearance as an occurrence when an artificial airway is used because normal mucociliary transport mechanisms are bypassed and impaired.
Your body has several mechanisms to keep your body’s airway free from occlusions. The presence of small hairs in your nostrils and the ability to cough to clear out obstructions are just a few examples. However, when these mechanisms are impaired, your body is at risk of a compromised airway.
When this occurs, immediate attention and intervention are necessary to prevent serious problems. With treatment and care from a reliable healthcare practitioner, techniques and devices could also be utilised to assist with effective airway clearance.
High-Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (HFCWO) Therapy
If you have limited mobility, the High-Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (HFCWO) is an airway clearance therapy that you can perform at home because you’ll only need to use a vest to do it. A HFCWO vest is an inflatable vest that is attached to an air-pulse machine. During HFCWO, positive pressure air pulses are applied to the chest wall to create ‘mini coughs’ that help loosen mucus, propelling it toward your larger airways, where it’s easier to cough out or be removed by suction.
What is a vest for HFCWO used for?
The HFCWO vest works by rapidly inflating and deflating the vest to gently squeeze and release the chest wall up to 20 times per second. Patients with respiratory problems can use this device to help:
- Effectively clear airways from mucus
- Decrease lung infections
- Reduce antibiotic use
- Prevent hospitalisation
- Improve lung function
The main goals of HFCWO therapy are to reduce the number of exacerbations and infections and, essentially, to improve a patient’s quality of life by reducing airway inflammation and mobilising secretions.
Other Airway Clearance Techniques and Devices
The large production of mucus and phlegm (also known as sputum) makes for severe breathing difficulties for patients with respiratory conditions. Doctors recommend performing certain coughs to help loosen up the mucus. Here are some of the techniques and devices that can help you breathe easier:
Huff cough breathing
One of the most effective airway clearance techniques is the huff cough breathing, which is a breathing method similar to breathing fog onto your glasses to clean them. This technique will bring up the loosened phlegm for an effective airway clearance therapy routine.
Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure (OPEP)
These are hand-held devices that combine positive expiratory pressure with high-frequency oscillations. It creates resistance and vibrations that help loosen and clear mucus from the airways. With the guidance of a clinical doctor, using an OPEP device helps patients “huff cough” to clear mucus from their lungs.
Manual Chest Physiotherapy (CPT)
Manual CPT is a traditional approach to airway clearance. It’s a technique that involves the assistance of a therapist or caregiver who manually claps on your chest wall in various positions. In performing this technique, you’ll be guided to do different positions while a trained individual manually claps on your chest wall to help clear the lungs of mucus build-up.
Inhaled (nebulised) Medications
There are medicines you can inhale to help open the airways and loosen mucus. A bronchodilator, such as albuterol, helps relieve or prevent spasms of the airway muscles. Hypertonic saline, a concentrated salt water solution, may also help loosen secretions in your airways. Most of the time, inhaled medicines are used before or during airway clearance to help bring mucus up.
The Vest Airway Clearance System Model 105 from Home Healthcare Online
Effectively clearing mucus from the airways is crucial, especially if you have respiratory problems. Airway clearance therapy using the HFCWO vest can provide improvement both in pulmonary function and quality of life in patients with chronic hyper-secretive diseases.
At Home Healthcare Online, we trust the Hillrom™ Vest Airway Clearance System Model 105. It’s widely recognized as the gold standard in HFCWO therapy. With its Connex® App, you can share your therapy session data and results with your clinician to produce a more informed care plan!