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Problems with coughing and secretions

In this chapter you will learn about:

  • the excretory system of the lungs;
  • the characteristics of an effective cough;
  • various breathing techniques;
  • cough assist;
  • cough assist machines;
  • other measures such as humidification, aspiration and suction.

At the end of the chapter, you will be given some tasks to complete.

Excretory system of the lungs

Airway secretions, cilia and effective coughing are important parts of the excretory system of the lungs. Dust and particles in the air that are breathed in do not belong in the lungs where gases are exchanged. Airway secretions that line the airways shall therefore capture the particles to facilitate transportation to the pharynx and out of the lungs with the aid of cilia and coughing.

Electron microscopic image of ciliaElectron microscopic image (x 10,000) of cilia. Foto: EM-lab, Universitetssykehuset Nord-Norge.

Remember that:

  • The activity of cilia is stimulated by good pulmonary ventilation.
  • An effective cough further transports secretions and expels them from the lungs.

You can learn more about good pulmonary ventilation, breathing techniques and effective coughing on the following pages.