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What is autogenic drainage?

Autogenic drainage uses a cycle of breathing control exercises at various depths to loosen then clear secretions (phlegm) from the lungs.

Active cycle of breathing exercises supervised by a specialist physiotherapistAbove: Active cycle of breathing exercises supervised by a specialist physiotherapist

The autogenic drainage technique tends to be practiced in sitting, and consists of 3 phases:
  1. Un-sticking – this mobilises secretions in the small airways at the bottom of the lungs.
    Technique: big breath out, small breath in
  2. Collecting – this gathers the secretions and pushes them up the lungs into the main airways.
    Technique: middle sized breaths in and out
  3. Evacuating – this gets the secretions right to the back of the throat where they can be coughed out easily. Coughing before this phase is discouraged.
    Technique: take in as much air as possible then slowly sigh out.
Gentle active huffs then used to remove the secretions from the body through the mouth. These are carried out by imagining you are steaming up the mirror, and are as effective but less painful and tiring than coughing.

What are the benefits of autogenic drainage?

Autogenic drainage helps to clear any secretions from the lungs, by clearing these secretions you are significantly minimising the risk of developing a chest infection.

The technique of autogenic drainage also has the advantages of:
  • Keeping the airways open, meaning secretions are more easily removed.
  • Can be carried out at any place, any time – no need for equipment or assistance
  • Huff is gentler than a cough meaning it is less painful and tiring – this means a broader spectrum of people with chest complaints are able to benefit.
  • People who clear well improve their lung function which also helps improve exercise tolerance.

Who would benefit from autogenic drainage?

Autogenic drainage is particularly useful in conditions where large amounts of thick secretions are produced. These include: Autogenic drainage is a technique that requires much practice and concentration in order to be effective, however once taught, and thoroughly practiced; you will be able to use the technique without supervision from your physiotherapist as a very effective method of clearing your secretions on an everyday basis.

Autogenic drainage is a self-management technique where you become the expert, once you have been taught the technique; with practice you will be able to modify it to its most effective. It is very useful in people with chronic respiratory conditions as it allows independent clearance your secretions on an everyday basis.

To find out if autogenic drainage may be suitable to treat your respiratory condition, please call us at today on 0330 088 7800 to make an appointment. You can also make appointments online today!

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