If you have a disease that results in sputum production, your physiotherapist will prescribe respiratory physiotherapy for you. Initially, this will involve the physio assessing you to identify the problem. As a result, management techniques and a treatment plan will be put in place. This will include airway clearance techniques, such as oscillating PEP. Different types of mucus clearance device use oscillating PEP, including the Shaker by POWERbreathe. Such devices combine the techniques of positive expiratory pressure (PEP) with oscillations. Your physio will refer to these as ‘oscillatory positive expiratory pressure’, or OPEP devices.
Shaker mucus clearance devices
The Shaker device will help to shift your bronchial secretions by combining PEP and oscillations. This combination will help you to expectorate the increasing amount of mucus you’re producing. By coughing out more mucus, you’re helping to prevent infections of your respiratory tract. It is also helpful if you have hay fever, which can make symptoms of asthma, such as coughing and wheezing, feel worse. Devices like the Shaker are easy-to-use without medical supervision, so you may decide to use it as an alternative, or additional, treatment to your prescribed medical respiratory physiotherapy.
Although it works similarly to the older Acapella mucus clearance device, research reveals the Shaker to have better linearity at higher airflows. The same research also finds the pressure amplitude produced by the Shaker and Flutter mucus clearance device to be greater at low and high pressures. Finally, the same study shows a higher frequency of oscillation for the Shaker and Flutter at an intermediate pressure. This is all beneficial in helping you get the most from your therapy.
The Shaker Classic, Shaker Deluxe and Shaker Medic Plus by POWERbreathe all mobilise mucus using oscillatory positive expiratory pressure (OPEP). An important point to note is that the Shaker devices are all gravity-dependent, as opposed to gravity-independent. This is worth bearing in mind as a 2018 study finds,
By contrast, this same study finds that the two gravity-independent OPEP devices, the Acapella Choice and Aerobika, “probably require higher expiratory pressure to reach theoretical therapeutic effectiveness.”
Therapeutic effects of the Shaker
If you have a condition such as chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis or asthma, then you’ll be only too aware of the excessive amount of mucus you produce. You may also notice a change in the type of mucus you’re producing. Because of this, it’s no surprise that you’ll be having difficulty clearing the mucus, even after coughing. But this is where using the Shaker by POWERbreathe for respiratory physiotherapy can help you.
The Shaker uses a stainless-steel ball, weighing 30g, to help clear bronchial secretions. It does this by ‘shaking’ and causing a vibration, or percussion, in your chest. This happens as you exhale through the mouthpiece. As you breathe out through the device, the 30g steel ball provides a resistance. This causes the ball to move and shake and makes it more difficult for you to breathe out. All this shaking and vibration loosens the mucus. After breathing out through it a few times, you’ll find you’ll need to huff, or cough, to expel the mucus. You can see this being demonstrated in the video above. After a few uses, you’ll begin to work out for yourself how long and how frequently you’ll need to use your Shaker device, as everyone is different.
To further enhance the therapeutic effect of your Shaker airway clearance device, its mouthpiece is designed to allow you to use it in a sitting or lying position.
Respiratory physiotherapy techniques
In respiratory physiotherapy, no one technique fits all. A therapist must take into consideration the strength of their patient, the thickness of their mucus and where it is located. However, as a patient, the price may be a criterion for selecting the most suitable device. In this 2013 study, assessment of the Flutter, Acapella and Shaker shows all three mechanical behaviours to be reliable. However, the Shaker is likely to be the most cost-effective.
This type of respiratory physiotherapy aims to help you clear excessive phlegm, sputum, mucus and catarrh. Consequently, breathing effort reduces and exercise tolerance improves, helping you return to a better quality of life.
Young children benefit from respiratory physiotherapy too, but they will require something with a lighter resistance to exhale against. If you have children, you’ll know that you’ll also need to make their therapy more fun. Blowing games using the Flowball by POWERbreathe can help them to clear secretions.
You should always consult a doctor before starting any treatment if you’re concerned about any medical issue.
Influenza, or flu as it’s more commonly known, is around all year. However here in the U.K. at this time of year we start thinking about ‘seasonal flu’, so called because it is common in the winter months.
Main symptoms include a high temperature, feeling tired and achy, and a chesty cough. All of these things start suddenly. The symptoms may appear similar to a cold, but flu is a very different set of viruses. And symptoms are more severe and longer lasting. Speak to your GP if you are concerned.
Flu can leave you exhausted, especially when you are suffering from a chesty cough. It can interrupt your sleep so you wake feeling tired. However coughing is actually nature’s way of clearing your lungs. It helps to expel irritants and secretions and prevent infection.
How you catch flu
Droplets that travel in the air from a cough or a sneeze will contain the virus. And anyone who comes into contact from these droplets can catch the flu. This can happen from breathing in the droplets. It is also transmitted after touching surfaces that droplets have landed on and then touching your nose or mouth.
Prevention and treatment
An annual flu vaccine is available in the autumn, from the beginning of October to November. You can also help to prevent spreading the virus by washing your hands regularly, cleaning surfaces to rid them of germs, and by using a tissue to cough or sneeze into.
Expelling sticky mucus from your chest
Mucus clearance devices ‘shake’ the congestion in your chest. This effectively loosens it so that you can expel it. They complement regular medication because they have no side-effects or drug interactions. The Shaker devices by POWERbreathe are easy to use by both adults and children (under supervision). In fact regular use of the Shaker of between 5 to 15 minutes will produce benefits equivalent to that delivered by physiotherapy techniques.
You will usually find phlegm in the back of the throat or in the lungs. It is produced by the lower airways. Mucus on the other hand will normally be found in the mucous membranes inside the nose. It acts like a filter protecting your lungs as you inhale. To clear it you simply blow your nose. Phlegm however is thicker and more viscous. You usually only notice it when you cough it up. An excess of this secretion can be a symptom of a respiratory problem such as bronchitis.
Why you should cough up phlegm
Although unpleasant, you can safely swallow mucus. This is because your body can safely reabsorb it. Phlegm however must be expelled from the body. Advice from healthcare professionals is to cough it up. This is because it will contain virus and dead bacteria. As you cough it up you are helping your body to get rid of the infection.
What to do when phlegm is problematic
Secretions will be more of a problem at night. This is simply because of gravity. These secretions will feel heavy in your chest. This can bring on coughing. You can allieviate this by elevating your sleeping position. Simply prop yourself up more with a pillow. Coughing is actually your body’s natural way of expelling the phlegm. This will help you to get better.
Expel phlegm with drugs – or drug-free
Expectorants can be prescribed to help increase bronchial secretion. They are intended to help make it easier to cough it up. But expectorants are medicines. Shaker by POWERbreathe however is an effective drug-free alternative.
Expel phlegm naturally with the Shaker
The Shaker by POWERbreathe literally ‘shakes’ secretions in your chest to make them more mobile. The shaking breaks these secretions down and makes it easier for you to cough it up.
How the Shaker works
Inside the Shaker device is a weighted ball. As you breathe in through the device the ball rises and then falls again under its own weight. This happens quickly and feels like vibrations. This vibration and gentle resistance dislodges and thins phlegm. You’re then more able to expel it by coughing.
Who can use the Shaker
Because the Shaker is drug-free and easy-to-use, children and adults can use it. And because it shakes up phlegm, it is ideal for people with respiratory problems. These include Chronic Bronchitis, Bronchiectasis, Emphysema, Asthma and Cystic Fibrosis. There are however some precautions which you will find on the Shaker Classic, Shaker Deluxe and Shaker Plus product pages.