Tips for Airway Clearance and Strong Lungs

COVID-19 is here and in some ways, it seems to me like the rest of the world just woke up one day to the life of a Cystic Fibrosis Patient. Suddenly all human beings have to learn how to live their lives with a six foot rule, being super germ-aware, and managing the mental and emotional toll of what is now known as social distancing. These realities are not new to those of us in the CF Community. We have been living them for decades now and when this is over, we will still have to live them. Rather than complain about this, I want to share some insight on how I manage life with this disease.

Here are some of my top tips of how to clear your airways and keep your lungs strong.


Back in the day, my parents had to pound me while I did my breathing treatments. That sounds a bit abusive, but there’s no other way to describe it. The video above will help you see the examples of having someone pound your chest, back, and sides to help move mucus out of your lungs. It’s a bit tricky to explain, so the visual will help.

If you don’t have someone living with you that can help with this, you can also do what is called “a huff.” The video shows an example of this too.

Also – do not sleep flat when you have congestion. Sleep in an elevated position with a few pillows behind you. I have found that this helps me sleep in a more comfortable position when I am battling a cold or the flu and I struggle to breathe. You may even find that your ribs are out of place from coughing sometimes and my tip for this is to have heat packs on your back or side to help ease the discomfort so you can rest better.


What we feed our bodies matters. These are my top tips to keep my lungs strong and clear from a nutritional standpoint.

No Dairy, especially dairy milk. Dairy creates more mucus, so at the very least, stop drinking dairy milk and use an alternative like almond milk or coconut milk. Also, limit your cheese intake.

Spinach – it helps your immune system and keeps your lungs strong. Eat a lot of it.

Garlic and onions – these are both good for your immune system and are natural expectorants because they thin out secretions.

Drink plenty of water. At least half your body weight in ounces every day. I usually drink 4-6 liters of water a day and feel at my best when I do that.

Drink Tea. Tea with lemon and honey is a soothing tea that is also good for when you have congestion. Peppermint tea can help too.

Keeping your immune system strong is one way to help your lungs stay strong, but let’s not ignore exercise. Cardio workouts help too. If you can’t run or ride bike, at the very least get yourself outside for a walk. Twenty minutes of walking is better than nothing. And cardio PLUS weight training is great together. Weight training can help build your lung capacity better than cardio sometimes so do what you can and start now.

All of these quick tips are very helpful and can make a difference. Start now so you are ready and prepared if and when sickness arrives at your front door.

Be blessed, be healthy, and be inspired,

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