How should I do coughing exercises after thoracic surgery?

Francis X. Downey, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
Follow these instructions on how to do coughing exercises at home after thoracic surgery.

1. Take a deep breath before coughing. This will allow air to push congestion upward during coughing to clear secretions.

2. Two short, clear coughs should be done after each inhalation. Throat clearing, tiny coughs, and "hacking" do not work well in clearing the congestion. Rest as needed between coughs to avoid fatigue.

3. You will find it more comfortable to hold a pillow or a folded blanket over your incision when coughing.

4. You may notice a small amount of blood in your sputum when you cough as a result of your surgery. This should gradually become darker in color and eventually resolve. If it persists or worsens, please call your doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.