Coughing Effectively

There are two extremely effective ways of coughing to help expel mucus from the lungs: deep coughing and huff coughing.

Deep Coughing

  • Start by taking a deep breath.
  • Hold the breath for 2-3 seconds.
  • Use your stomach muscles to forcefully expel the air.
  • Avoid a hacking cough or merely clearing the throat.
  • A deep cough is less tiring and more effective in clearing mucus out of the lungs.

Huff Coughing

  • Huff coughing, or huffing, is an alternative to deep coughing if you have trouble clearing your mucus.
  • Take a breath that is slightly deeper than normal.
  • Use your stomach muscles to make a series of three rapid exhalations with the airway open, making a “ha, ha, ha” sound.
  • Follow this by controlled diaphragmatic breathing and a deep cough if you feel mucus moving.
Coughing & Huffing


Other Techniques

  • If you produce a large amount of mucus, your health care provider may recommend other techniques to help clear the mucus.
  • Devices such as the Acapella® or Aerobika® are small devices into which you exhale.
  • Postural Drainage is a technique that uses gravity to promote drainage of mucus from the lungs.
  • Each technique can be ordered and demonstrated by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider if this may be helpful for you.
  • Exercise is also a good way to help bring up mucus in the lungs.