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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Assisted Cough


If your cough is weak and if it is difficult to bring up mucus or you know you have lots of mucus, you need an assisted cough. In an assisted cough, another person pushes on your chest to help you cough. An assisted cough is done while you are sitting up in a bed or chair. If you are in a wheelchair, be sure to put the brakes on.

  • Your caregiver places the heel of one hand on your abdomen just above your navel and places the other hand on top of the first hand. He or she interlocks the fingers so that they are pulled away from your body.
  • The caregiver keeps his or her elbows straight.
  • You take a deep breath and hold it.
  • You cough while your caregiver pushes upward and under your rib cage, one time. It may take practice to coordinate your cough with the motion.

If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor before using an assisted cough. Most specialists do not recommend using an assisted cough for pregnant women, especially in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerNancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofMarch 12, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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