Treatment approaches to manage symptoms for people with bronchiectasis can include a) the use of breathing exercises and medical devices to help loosen and clear mucus from the lungs, b) the use of oral and inhaled medications that help clear mucus from the lungs, and c) the use of antibiotics to treat lung infections.
Effective mucus clearance is essential for lung health, and airway disease is a consistent consequence of poor clearance⁹ Expert consensus opinion is that regular airway clearance therapy should be performed for all clinically significant bronchiectasis patients.¹ Airway clearance therapy is considered a cornerstone of therapy for people with bronchiectasis and is aimed at minimizing the effects of airway obstruction, infection, and inflammation in these lung diseases. Airway clearance therapy is recommended for not just people with bronchiectasis but any individual whose ability to mobilize and clear airway secretions is compromised. Patients with a daily, productive cough should be utilizing airway clearance therapy daily to help prevent future infections or hospitalizations.
Airway clearance techniques are intended to reduce obstructive secretions, which can include issues like air-flow obstruction, respiratory infection, dyspnea, fatigue, and reduced quality of life.¹⁰ These techniques include both mucus-mobilizing techniques and assisted cough techniques.
Studies recommend that airway clearance techniques be used as the primary method of mobilizing secretions from the middle and small airways to the larger airways. Then, effective coughing can be used to clear secretions from the larger airways, thereby preserving the integrity of the larger airways.⁹
The goal of airway clearance therapy is to provide a preventative treatment option for at-risk pulmonary patients that results in reduced, recurring hospitalizations and better overall health. ¹¹’¹²
Due to the range of techniques, it is important to personalize airway clearance therapy for everyday living with the aim of providing the best health and therapy adherence.