How to clear your chest with breathing techniques

6) Hydration & humidification

A jug of drinking water

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To get the most out of your Airway Clearance Technique you must drink fluids (not alcohol) and stay well hydrated.
When you are dehydrated your natural lung clearance methods don’t work as well.

Hydration – How much you should drink per day?

  • This will vary depending on your size, how active you are, how warm you keep your house, and other medical conditions you may have. A good rough guide is about 8 glasses or between 1 and 2 litres daily. A good tip is – if your mouth feels dry, your airways are dry.
  • Drinking water is great, but other fluids can be just as good.
  • Limit drinks containing caffeine (tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks). Although it is a myth that they increase dehydration, they won’t give you as much benefit as a non-caffeinated drink. They can also make you pass urine more often meaning more trips to the toilet. Try decaffeinated versions.
  • If you do drink alcohol be aware that your lungs will feel the hangover too! This is because of dehydration and your cilia will not work as well over night.
  • If you are in any doubt about whether you should be increasing the amount you drink, speak to your Nurse or Doctor. Some medical conditions may mean you have to restrict your fluid intake.

Humidification – to moisten the air you breathe

  • The best way to keep your airways moist is to stay well hydrated.
  • Try steam inhalations to moisten your airways – menthol or eucalyptus oils can be added to hot water. (Take care when using hot water for steam inhalation)
  • Only a few people with COPD will need a nebuliser. If you do have a nebuliser, using it can help.