Understanding Airway Clearance Issues

Our lungs are extraordinary in maintaining our state of health. They protect us by trapping bacteria and other inhaled particles – while keeping airways open for the vital exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Uncleared secretions promote chronic inflammation and infection and if unmanaged, can result in irreversible lung damage and respiratory function impairment.

vicious-cycle

Our lungs are extraordinary in maintaining our state of health. They protect us by trapping bacteria and other inhaled particles – while keeping airways open for the vital exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Uncleared secretions promote chronic inflammation and infection and if unmanaged, can result in irreversible lung damage and respiratory function impairment.

vicious-cycle
Normal Airway Clearance

Built-in defense system

As the only internal organs that directly interact with the outside world, our lungs and respiratory system are covered with cells that secrete a protective mucus lining. Bacteria and other airborne particles become trapped in this mucus and are then swept upwards and outwards by tiny hair-like structures called cilia.

A natural balance

When there is a balance of mucus secretion and removal, there is a stable and effective defense against outside elements. Airway mucus traps bacteria and other inhaled particles and cilia move it out of the lungs – preventing us from infection.

Abnormal Airway Clearance

What happens when the lungs cannot clear secretions?

When the unique interaction of mucus, cilia and coughing are ineffective in clearing mucus, it creates respiratory difficulties. The chronic effects of excess airway secretions directly correlate with episodes of acute illness and progressive declines in pulmonary function.