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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > 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 ofDecember 12, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - PediatricsKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineCatherine O'Malley, RRT - Respiratory Therapy
Current as of:
December 12, 2018
Medical Review:John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Catherine O'Malley, RRT - Respiratory Therapy
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