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Postural Drainage

If you have a chronic mucus problem or increased mucus from an infection, lying with your chest lower than your abdomen can loosen and drain excess mucus from your lungs. Find positions that are comfortable for you. You can lie on a bed or on the floor, using pillows as shown, or you can prop a bed up on one end. Maintain each position for at least 5 minutes. When you need to cough, sit up and do controlled coughing.

Caution: Always do postural drainage on an empty stomach, and 30 minutes after using a bronchodilator or inhaler.

Check with your healthcare provider before trying these positions.

Man lying on back with pillow under head and knees bent with pillows supporting them.

On Your Back

To drain the front of your lungs:

  • Lie on a slanted surface with your chest lower than your hips.

  • Place a small pillow under your head and two pillows under your knees. Lie with your knees bent over the pillows.

  • Rest your arms at your sides and breathe using diaphragmatic breathing.

Man lying on side with pillows underneath hips.

On Each Side

To drain the sides of your lungs:

  • Place a small pillow under your head and two or three pillows under your hips.

  • Lie on one side with your chest lower than your hips.

  • Breathe using diaphragmatic breathing. After 5–10 minutes, switch to the other side.

Man lying face down with pillows under stomach and head on small pillow, knees bent.

On Your Stomach

To drain the back of your lungs:

  • Put two or three pillows under your stomach.

  • Kneel over the pillows, so that your chest is lower than your hips.

  • Rest your arms by your head and breathe using diaphragmatic breathing.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
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