What is Airway Clearance Therapy?

If you have a lung disease such as COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, or Bronchiectasis, you may have a lot of mucus in your lungs. When the mucus builds up in your airways, it can be hard to breathe. It also makes it easier to get infections.


Airway clearance techniques (ACTs) are ways to loosen thick, sticky mucus so it can be coughed up and cleared out of the lungs. Early diagnosis and implementation of airway clearance can reduce morbidity and mortality.*



Respiratory Infections

Breathlessness and Wheezing



Airway Clearance Therapy Techniques

Chest Physiotherapy


Chest physiotherapy (CPT) involves a therapist or caregiver gently but firmly patting the chest and back to loosen thick mucus in the lungs.

Coughing & Huffing


Coughing is one of the easiest airway clearance techniques and helps to release mucus from he lungs and passed into airways for clearing.

Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure


Oscillating PEP  is where a person blows out many times through a device to vibrate the large and small airways to dislodge mucus.

High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation


High frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) is performed with a mechanical vest that vibrates the chest wall to loosen mucus.

Positive Expiratory Pressure


Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) therapy uses a mask or mouthpiece attached to a resistor that holds the airways open to breath in and out against the resistance.

Active Cycle of Breathing Technique


ACBT therapy includes controlled breathing, chest expansion exercises and forced coughing to get air behind the mucus to force it out.


  1. Volsko, T. Airway Clearance Therapy: Finding the Evidence. Respiratory Care. October 2013.