Cough assist devices help individuals with impaired respiratory function clear mucus and other secretions from airways, allowing for better overall respiration and health.
Overview of Cough Assist Equipment (Insufflator - Exsufflator):
Coughing clears the airways. Respiratory problems that make breathing difficult often also impair an individual’s ability to cough. Not coughing leads to clogged airways. In fact, without coughing, the lungs and airways retain excess secretions, which create a ripe environment for the growth of infection, leads to inflammation, and creates an increased risk of respiratory failure.
Most think of coughing as an annoyance, but it actually serves a very important role in the respiratory system. For those with pulmonary diseases, weakened muscles of the respiratory system, or a central nervous disease, effective coughing often becomes difficult.
Insufflation refers to blowing filtered air into the respiratory system, and exsufflation describes the forceful expiration of air. Cough assist equipment, or mechanical insufflation-exsufflation equipment, first slowly inflates the lungs. This is the first step of the process, and is often called the inhalation phase. In the next step, the exhalation phase, an abrupt change to negative pressure results in rapid exhalation, which brings on coughing. The third phase is the pause phase. The cycle then begins again.
Coughing assistance devices are intended for periodic therapy sessions. Most advise that patients should not remain connected to insufflator/exsufflator devices for extended periods of time. Typically, treatments involve four or five cycles of inhaling, exhaling, and pausing. The desired result is movement of the secretions so that they come out of the airways.
Cough assist equipment requires knowledge of proper levels and operating techniques. One important procedure is properly adjusting the timing of the three phases of treatment. Additionally, proper pressure adjustment is required for the best benefits from the therapy. Finally, proper cleaning and care of the unit, including cleaning or replacing filters in a timely matter, decrease the likelihood of infections. However, taking the time to do all steps properly result in better outcomes for patients.