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What is a Lung Flute?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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A lung flute is a medical device used to loosen mucus in the lungs so people can cough it up. People with respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and asthma can develop serious complications as a result of mucus buildups in their lungs. Even when using medications to help them expectorate, they may have trouble clearing their lungs. The lung flute uses vibrations to break up the mucus so people can cough more productively and breathe easily.

The device includes a mouthpiece attached to a flexible reed. The reed is enclosed inside a tube. People blow into the mouthpiece, using short, brisk breaths, causing the reed to vibrate. The vibrations of the reed transmit through the lungs, freeing mucus from the walls of the lungs. The loosening of the mucus allows the underlying tiny hairs, known as cilia, inside the lungs to start moving again, forcing the mucus into the throat so patients can cough it up.

This therapeutic medical device may require a prescription, depending on where a patient lives. A doctor will evaluate the patient to determine if he is a good candidate, and provide instructions on using the lung flute. Usually, patients need around two sessions a day to keep their lungs clear. Costs vary, and patients may be able to receive coverage through insurance or government benefits to pay both for the consultation and the device itself.

The lung flute is most effective when people use it regularly. If patients are not consistent about sessions, they can start to experience buildups of mucus again and may have trouble breathing. Some patients find it helpful to use the lung flute at the same time they take daily medications, to make sure they remember to do it. It's also important to use the device in a location where people will be able to freely cough up mucus and other fluids from the lungs, as it starts working almost immediately.

This device is usually part of a larger treatment plan for the patient. The plan pay also include medication, dietary modifications, and other steps to reduce mucus production and keep the lungs clear. If patients start to have trouble breathing even with regular lung flute sessions, they may be developing complications, and should see a doctor. It it important to attend regular follow-up visits so a doctor can assess cardiopulmonary health and determine if any aspect of the treatment is in need of adjustment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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