Mucus and COPD

November 2nd, 2011 | Author: COPD Coach

Dear COPD Coach,

I was diagnosed with COPD a year ago. I am constantly bringing up lots of mucus. Sometimes it is harder to get the mucus up and what I bring up is sometimes very thick. This especially happens in the morning and late in the evening. Sometimes it is like I don’t have enough strength to cough it up and I get severely short of breath trying to cough. Until I am able to get the mucus out, I just can’t breathe! What is the best way to get the mucus out?


Dear Stuffy,

Many people with COPD have a chronic bronchitis component to their COPD, and daily efforts to get the mucus out become a big part of their everyday life. The first question I would have is whether or not you have discussed this with your doctor. There is medication available that will help thin out the mucus and make it easier to “bring up.”

There are also especially effective cough techniques that you can learn from a Respiratory Therapist that can give you good results without completely tiring you out.

With that said, there are a few mucus clearing devices that are available that can greatly ease the process.


One of the more inexpensive alternatives is called the Flutter®. This device is shaped like a pipe and can be easily carried with you in your pocket or purse. The way the Flutter® works is that it vibrates the airways loosening the mucus from the airway walls. The problem with the Flutter® is that it must be held at a precise angle in order for it to have the maximum effect.

Another inexpensive device is The Acapella®. It works on the same principal but uses different mechanics that allow it to be used at any angle. Originally it came in either high flow or low flow, but now comes in an adjustable model that also breaks down for cleaning.

A more expensive alternative is High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation with units like The Vest®. This involves wearing a rubber vest that looks kind of like a life jacket that oscillates the chest wall which loosens mucous. First developed for cystic fibrosis patients, it can be very effective for COPD patients. It is also very expensive.

A newer alternative is Intrapulmonary Percussive Ventilation (IPV).  Intrapulmonary percussive ventilation delivers rapid, small volumes of air to help loosen retained secretions. Using a mouth piece, and often a nebulizing medication, you can adjust the strength of the pulse over the course of the treatment. While once only available in a hospital setting, it is now available in a home model. The cost of this unit is also significant.

There are of course other devices and variations available. Each one will have advantages and disadvantages over others in terms of effectiveness and cost and ease of use.

Again, I recommend that your situation is best determined by talking with your doctor, and then checking on your insurance reimbursement.

I hope this helps, and be sure to let us know how you are doing!

The COPD Coach

Ask the Expert is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice.

If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to any of the following: COPD Coach, Caregiver Coach, COPD Doctor or COPD RT.


  1. brian4509 says:

    Wonderful entry. Possibly the best I’ve come upon.

  2. lanelle8137 says:

    I’ve got to say that this really is one of the more impressive postings I’ve found about this subject matter. I will certainly follow your posts.

  3. levitra says:

    You can adopt their styles to suit yours; this is one
    of the best ways to determine the right fashion for you.
    They are going to almost any extent to look good and attractive.
    Choose not only from the styles of the shoes but also
    make sure that they ate comfortable.

  4. torebki says:

    After his death, the business was successfully carried on by his
    three sons. It compares the design of vintage motorcycles to today’s models.
    Fresh pairs of UGG products arrive in latest designs and
    fake boots are replicas of these originals.

  5. sue1224 says:

    You will hardly find content such as this nowadays. I remember when you could find one or two topics similar to this in a few minutes but now it’s much more difficult.

  6. levitra says:

    There are hundreds of brands out there manufacturing the shoes.
    Style- Most of us looks at the design and style while buying any item.
    Wearing an elegant UGG boot with tight jeans can give you a classy and beautiful look.

  7. In no way is tobacco burned or manipulated to provide a sensation. They actually do a good job of
    taking people out, so you basically just have to adapt
    as you go. Some individuals say that the ones
    they’re using generally last for fourteen days to a month.

  8. corrinne6741 says:

    Not one of the other postings I’ve come across are like this one. You are able to tell alot of work went into this.

  9. isa1785 says:

    None of the various posts I’ve come across are like this one. You are able to tell much work went into this.

  10. eusebio3045 says:

    I believe I read a different post similar to this one in the past. It had the same material and is equally well posted.

  11. Permanent Detox says:

    Guaranteed detox programs designed for passing any drug test

  12. angelena2141 says:

    I’m really delighted I stumbled upon this post. It’s well written plus the content is great. I am hoping to uncover more like this.

  13. dorla3985 says:

    If I could run into more content like this one, that would be great.

  14. Drug Test says:

    It certainly is nice to finally find decent posts like this. I actually enjoyed this.

  15. b campbell says:

    Is there anything you can take for this cough x

  16. value addon says:

    For instance, you can set the first paragraph of a post to be free for all to see. That’s the biggest trade-off with running a membership site that lasts for a fixed term. Don’t worry about making a less than stellar impression on site visitors, it is more important to be professional and launch when you say you will.

  17. mary koziatek says:

    I was wonder if you have trail runs on the vest

  18. Very helpful post. Time-tested mucus relief I can recommend is drinking plenty of liquids. The right liquids can help loosen mucus. Also you can give yourself a steam treatment. Just let the warm steam travel down your sinus and throat to loosen up mucus that’s lodged in there. Plus get plenty of rest.

    philadelphia langhorne hand specialist

  19. Dakota.Stacy says:

    I appreciate, lead to I found just what I used to be
    having a look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  20. Herbal products are promoted as an aid of tobacco cessation. The
    three most dangerous ingredients in cigarette are nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar.
    It looks like we can expect for Shetan Noir to be around for a long time to come.

  21. Have you tried some eucalyptus or mint or even honey to help expel some mucus out? I hope you have found a way or seek medical expert regarding your situation. – Howard Long

  22. Carin says:

    Fabulous, what a blog it is! This webpage presents helpful
    data to us, keep it up.

    My page: the vapor 123; Carin,

  23. Louanne says:

    I have successfully utilized the Acapella device for a few years, along with mucus medication, The Acapella device works great,along with drinking extra water to keep secretions manageable. However, with latter stage lung disease,( myself) there are times when more aggressive methods are required.

  24. Doug says:

    Drinking a sufficient amount of water per day also thins the mucus making it easier to expel…

  25. Probably the most frequent respiration disease signs and symptoms you have with this problem is you are going to have some coughing.

  26. Susie Johnson says:

    My husband quickly gets really great relief by using Kali Bichromicum 6x, a Homeopathic remedy for thick mucus. I have used it for the last stages of a cold when I have thick mucus and it works the same way.

  27. Linda Clemson says:

    Why has my Mum stopped coughing up Mucas, it has only just dawned on me that this has stopped.Mum used to cough alot and have a toliet roll with her at all times?

  28. Jim says:

    Very informative posting. Thanks.

  29. I can vouch for the flutter device, I struggle with this issue and the flutter really helps. It take a while to really get good at using this device properly but once you get it down, it truly does the trick, for me! Hang in there!

Leave a comment