Annoyed by mucus constantly building up in your lungs? A mucus clearing device (sometimes called a “flutter” device) may be able to help you!
These devices are the go-to solution for mucus removal for many people – you should also try them to see if they live up to the hype!
In this guide, we’re going to help you understand what a mucus clearing device is and whether it is even worth your attention and, more importantly, your money!
How Do You Remove A Mucus Plug From Your Lungs?
Many remedies for mucus in the lungs exist – some more home-friendly and more effective than others. You should look them up yourself, but we’ll give a general outline of what you could do to help you get started.
Healthline, for example, suggests the following home remedies for mucus:
- Drinking plenty of liquids. Warm liquids in particular can do wonders, treating congestion and offering relief. Chicken soup, juice, or simply water are good candidates for mucus clearance.
- Using a humidifier. Steam from humidifiers can help loosen mucus in the airways, Healthline writes. As DIY alternatives, you may allow steam to build up in the bathroom when showering, or you could lean over a bowl with hot water with a towel over your head.
- Consuming buckwheat honey. Healthline references a 2007 study that found evidence to suggest the effectiveness of buckwheat honey against cough.
- Using essential oils. Essential oils – whether diffused in the air by an essential oil diffuser or applied topically – may be able to help you relieve airway congestion. Peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil are considered natural decongestants.
Aside from these, you may try over-the-counter decongestants – like oxymetazoline or pseudoephedrine – vapor rubs, or prescription medications in severe cases.
One effective method Healthline doesn’t mention, however, is a mucus clearing device.
If you are here, you’ve probably tried numerous home remedies without success. A mucus clearing device could be the key to clearer breathing!
But before you reach for your wallet, you should first understand what a mucus clearing device is.
What Is A Mucus Clearing Device?
A mucus clearing or clearance device is designed to help the user eject mucus from their lungs and airways – most often, through oscillatory positive expiratory pressure (OPEP). Therefore, mucus clearing devices are generally synonymous with OPEP devices.
Note that OPEP isn’t the only design used in airway clearing devices – there are at least two others:
- Intrapulmonary Percussive Ventilation (IPV). IPV devices inject air into the lungs in short bursts, vibrating the chest to release mucus.
- High-Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (HFCWO). HFCWO systems comprise an inflatable jacket that vibrates the chest via rapid inflation and deflation. This causes mucus to detach from the airways.
OPEP devices appear to be far more popular than these two mucus clearance devices. With that, our focus will be on OPEP today.
You can buy OPEP devices from a wide range of manufacturers. One noteworthy option is AirPhysio – a device we’ve had a look at not that long ago.
Devices like AirPhysio are quite straightforward in design. To make their mechanism of operation clearer, let’s have a look at their usage process – it’s quite simple. You need to:
- Take a deep breath.
- Put the OPEP device in your month.
- Blow into the device.
- Cough out the loosened mucus.
The “secret sauce” of OPEP devices shows itself when you exhale air through them.
OPEP devices are shaped so as to hamper exhalation. Have a look at the internal construction of AirPhysio, as an example:
You can immediately notice that the passageway for exhaled air is narrowed. Not only that, but at the end of the passageway, your lungs will also have to overcome the heft of a steel ball to push air out!
This design pursues one goal – to make the air get behind mucus to lift it from lung and airway walls. The ball at the tip of the device is there to create vibrations and some extra lift for the mucus.
Is A Mucus Clearing Device The Same As A Flutter Device?
Strictly speaking, no, a flutter device (more commonly known as a flutter valve or the Heimlich valve) is a different thing entirely. The purpose of a flutter valve is to prevent air in a chest tube from traveling back. Chest tubes, if you didn’t know, are inserted through the chest into the pleural cavity to remove excess pus, fluid, or air.
Sometimes, “flutter valve” and “mucus clearing device” are used interchangeably, but they are very different tools.
We aren’t entirely sure why mucus clearance devices are sometimes called “flutter valves”. This may be because of Flutter – a seemingly well-known company selling mucus clearing devices.
No matter what, make sure you know what you are dealing with when looking up a solution for mucus in the lungs online.
Mucus Clearing Device Indications
Mucus clearing devices like AirPhysio are typically advertised as a treatment and/or preventative measure for the following conditions:
- Common cold.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), like emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
OPEP devices are generally suitable for:
- Smokers and vapers.
- Athletes like swimmers or runners.
- Singers and musicians.
Children can also use OPEP devices, though you should consult your doctor before making any decisions.
Several studies have investigated the effects of OPEP on lung conditions. In patients with lower respiratory tract infection, OPEP devices improved the oxygenation index (a measure of how well the body utilizes oxygen), improved results in postural drainage (a method of mucus buildup treatment that uses gravity), and reduced inflammation (“Oscillatory positive expiratory pressure treatment in lower respiratory tract infection”, Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine).
According to a 2020 meta-review, OPEP devices appear to be able to relieve COPD symptoms and decrease exacerbations over the short term. They also seem to increase exercise capacity in users (“Use of oscillatory positive expiratory pressure (OPEP) devices to augment sputum clearance in COPD: a systematic review and meta-analysis”, Thorax).
You can find links to more OPEP studies in our AirPhysio review & overview.
How Do You Use A Mucus Clearance Device?
As we mentioned earlier, mucus clearing devices are easy to use. You only need to:
- Get your airway clearing device ready.
- Inhale and hold your breath for 2-3 seconds.
- Put the device in your mouth and blow into it for 3-5 seconds until all air leaves your lungs. Make sure to exhale at an even pace.
- Cough out the loosened mucus.
These instructions are actually for AirPhysio, but they should work for any other OPEP device as well. Make sure to consult your instructions just in case though.
Are There Any Mucus Clearing Device Complications?
We haven’t seen any mentions of complications from airway cleaning devices (particularly OPEP devices) online. Since there’s no medicine involved, OPEP devices should not harm your health.
If you are unsure, you should consult your doctor before committing to an OPEP device.
Are Mucus Clearance Devices Legit?
Mucus clearance devices are definitely legit, particularly OPEP devices – their benefits are backed up by research (although more studies are necessary for definite conclusions).
Research aside, users of mucus clearing devices generally praise them as well. Of course, some are better than others, but most OPEP devices – including AirPhysio – have been well-received by buyers.
All in all, judging by studies and positive mucus clearing device reviews, an OPEP device will likely make your life way easier if you suffer from mucus in your lungs.
One thing to keep in mind with OPEP devices though – they can remove mucus from the lungs, but they probably won’t be able to rid you of mucus for good. You’ll need to treat the root cause of mucus formation if you want to eventually stop using any airway clearing aid.
Besides, you should always consult your doctor before making any health-related decisions. In some cases, more active medical intervention may be necessary.
What Is The Best Mucus Clearing Device?
You can find mucus clearing devices from dozens of brands. AirPhysio is one notable option – we have covered this OPEP device in our review, so have a look at it if you’re interested.