COVID-19: Vaccine | Testing | Self-assessment | Patient & Visitor Safety | Visitor Policy
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Living Well > 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 of:
September 20, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineCatherine O'Malley RRT - Respiratory Therapy
Current as of: September 20, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Catherine O'Malley RRT - Respiratory Therapy
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.