What Is a Lung Flute?
A Lung flute is one of the many medical airway accessories developed by Medical Acoustics, LLC. It is a handy device approved by the FDA (food and Drug Administration) – agreed to supplement a patient’s natural mucus-clearing ability of the lungs.
A lung flute is mostly recommended and beneficial to COPD patients (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
The Lung Flute is currently employed as a diagnostic tool in places such as Japan, Europe, and Canada because it aids in the collection of sputum samples.
And on January 4, 2010, it was granted approval by the US FDA for use in the United States. A lung flute is also an effective tool for therapeutic use because it facilitates adequate airway clearance.
Mucus hypersecretion and reduced mucociliary clearance are prevalent in many patients with obstructive pulmonary disease and contribute significantly to this disease’s morbidity and mortality.
The Lung Flute is a small self-powered audio device that the FDA has classified to the family of Oscillatory Positive Expiratory Pressure (OPEP) devices.
Other devices in this same group as the Lung Flute are the Flutter and the Acapella.
Table of Contents
- How does Lung Flute work?
- Method of Usage
- Advantages of Lung Flute
- Disadvantages of Lung Flute
How does Lung Flute work?
The Lung Flute used to clear mucus from a congested lung with low-frequency sound waves was invented by acoustics engineer Sandy Hawkins.
The Lung Flute is tubular-looking with a plastic mouthpiece at one end, which is attached to a Mylar reed that flutters during use.
The Mylar reed is flared on its other end to increase the mass of air within the device; this provides acoustic impedance. To further explain how a lung flute works, for easier understanding, when a person blows vigorously through the mouthpiece of the lung flute, the breath moves the reed inside, which causes airway vibrations deep within the lungs.
These vibrations subsequently help loosen mucus secretions obstructing the airways, making it easier to cough up as the mucus is pooled back into the throat.
According to the manufacturers, when the device is in use, the Mylar reed will oscillate at a frequency that matches the resonance frequency of pulmonary secretions (about 16-25Hz). Thus, these mucus secretions’ viscosity is reduced by the mechanical vibrations resulting from the sound waves.
These mechanical vibrations will also aid the mucociliary escalator system’s action, which will mobilize the loose and thin mucus to ensure ideal bronchial hygiene by better and more effective expectoration.
Method of Usage
Following these simple how-to-use steps below will ensure the correct use of the device:
- First, the individual should take a deep breath. Then, place his/her lips around the mouthpiece. Exhale forcefully through the Lung Flute, like trying to blow out a candle. After doing this, remove the mouthpiece and inhale again. Now, place the mouthpiece back in the mouth, and this time blow gently through the Lung Flute.
- Remove the mouthpiece again and wait for about 5 seconds, taking several normal breaths.
- For optimal results, it is recommended to blow into the Lung Flute for up to 20 sets of two blows per set. Begin slowly and build up the number of repetitions over time.
- About 5 minutes after this blowing session has ended, mucus will have collected at the back of the throat, and vigorous coughing may occur. This collection of mucus may last for several hours, which is normal. A drink of water will wash away the mucus and prevent any minor throat irritation.
Advantages of Lung Flute
Some edge that the lung flute device over other medical airway accessories includes:
- Lightweight, extremely easy to handle.
- Relatively low cost for the flute and replacement reeds
- Simple, easy-to-understand step-by-step instructions.
- Frequent use is said to help prevent a build-up of mucus.
- Uncomplicated components- consist of only a mouthpiece and reed inside a long tube.
- Easy to maintain using soap and hot water.
- For an effective airway clearance, the process involves only two sessions that take only about five to ten minutes per day.
- Available instructional video on the website.
- It may be partially reimbursed by Medicare and other insurance companies.
Disadvantages of Lung Flute
- Requires a prescription for use in the USA.
- May cause transient throat irritation.
- It may be challenging to use for those who have difficulty following verbal instructions from primary health care providers.
- Some people may become overly tired from using the device.
- Condensations in the tube sometimes make the reed stick, rendering the device temporarily ineffective.
DR. SETHI and Yin and MRS. ADERSON 12 from a quantitative study conducted and funded by Medical Acoustics and by the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology funded by New York STAR, Empire State Developments Division of Science, reported that Lung Flute is a safe and effective treatment in COPD with chronic bronchitis and other closely related conditions, providing a wide array of benefits.
Noting that the cost of adequate care for COPD continues to grow with the expansion of the possible medication regimens that could be used in the patients. They also observed that each additional medication also places the patient at increased risk of adverse effects.
Moreover, unlike the lung flute, none of the other standard treatments such as the inhaled bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, or phosphodiesterase inhibitors have demonstrated effects to improve mucociliary clearance in COPD. Dr. SETHI, in a UB release, stated, “This study confirms that the Lung Flute is a device that improves symptoms and health status in COPD patients, decreasing the impacts of the disease and improving their quality of life.”
Pulmonary conditions that may present valid reasons in which a Lung Flute can be very effective include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Seasonal respiratory influenza
- Respiratory infections
- Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia
The Lung Flute is a very easy-to-use mucus clearing device like other devices of the same purpose. Its overall accessibility makes it a product that is worthy of attention for those who may benefit from it, especially patients of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. So, if you are an individual who experiences difficulty with mucus clearance, speak to a doctor or a primary health care provider about using it as an adjunct to your current COPD treatment.
- The efficiency of lung flute; https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/crj.12697
- COPD Patients Breathe Easier with Lung Flute; https://rtmagazine.com/disorders-diseases/chronic-pulmonary-disorders/copd/copd-patients-breathe-easier-lung-flute/
- Impact of Lung Flute Therapy on Asthma; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT2003521