Forced expiration technique or huffing

The forced expiration technique, or huffing, helps bring up the mucus into the bronchi and the larynx, making it easier to remove with a light cough.

If coughing requires too much effort, increases shortness of breath or prevents the removal of mucus, you should use the huffing technique. Huffing is gentler to the bronchi and requires less effort. It also brings the mucus up easier.

The right huffing technique

  • Sit down and calmly fill your lungs with air through your nose.
  • Place your hand on your upper abdomen to make sure that you fill the lower parts of your lungs with air as well.
  • Blow the air out through your mouth with a calm and long exhalation.
  • Fill your lungs with air again. When you exhale, huff the air out from the bottom of your lungs. This brings the mucus up into your bronchi and larynx.
  • Cough out the mucus.

The right coughing technique

  • Inhale calmly.
  • Cough two or three times powerfully, using your abdominal muscles.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough. Throw the tissue away afterwards. You can also cough into your sleeve.
  • Cough away from other people.
  • Do not cough too vigorously, as this will strain your larynx and airways. This can also make you feel out of breath and make it more difficult to remove the mucus.
  • Less strenuous than coughing, the forced expiration technique is an effective method for bringing up mucus from the smaller airways to the larger airways. This way, it is easy to remove the mucus by coughing.
  • You can practise the forced expiration technique in front of a mirror. The right technique will steam up the mirror.