Positive Expiratory Pressure Therapy: What is it, and How Does It Work?
Oscillatory Positive Expiratory Pressure (OPEP) is a drug-free therapy that helps clear secretions from the lungs and expand the lung’s air capacity. OPEP therapy uses small hand-held devices to support the lung’s natural cleaning mechanism and to provide an effective barrier to foreign particles. The body has primary defence mechanisms to fight invading respiratory pathogens. These include mucus-secreting cells lining the airways, as well as respiratory hairs (cilia) and cough reflexes. These protective mechanisms help to maintain optimal hygiene of the airway system to support healthier lungs and more effective breathing.
How OPEP Therapy Works
OPEP therapy promotes airway clearance during active air exhalation. Forceful exhalation through an OPEP device generates oscillations that loosen mucus build-up. Moreover, the accelerated expiratory airflow supports efficient mucus expectoration through coughing and/or swallowing naturally. OPEP helps maintain and restore lung function and capacity by removing secretions that obstruct the airways and by allowing dynamic lung expansion for better oxygen and carbon dioxide (O2-CO2) gas exchange.
Benefits of OPEP Therapy
Benefits of using OPEP as a drug-free therapy or preventive method to improve respiratory conditions depends on the kind and severity of the underlying condition. Patients suffering from excess mucus production and reduced lung capacity, for example due to asthma, emphysema, COPD, cystic fibrosis, or bronchiectasis may greatly benefit from OPEP therapy. Since inefficient mucus removal and poor lung hygiene can lead to an increased risk of infection, OPEP can work as a complementary therapy to clear excess mucus, maintain good pulmonary hygiene, and to thereby reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
OPEP therapy can improve the effectiveness of prescribed medication that open up constricted airways, such as inhalers. Reducing the mucus layer in the airways by OPEP can lead to a better drug distribution and absorption. As the drug becomes more effective, less of it may be used, making it more cost effective, while improving treatment.
Improving airway clearance by OPEP therapy can also promote faster recovery after heart or abdominal surgery by reducing the risk respiratory complications caused by impaired mucus secretion and clearance. Improved airway clearance using OPEP therapy is also very important in elderly people, especially those recovering from respiratory infections such as the flu, or chest colds.
OPEP therapy can help children and adults with asthma by reducing the frequency of night time attacks and improving the quality sleep. Those with seasonal allergies have found relief from wheezing and from asthma symptoms by using OPEP.
However, OPEP therapy is not limited to patient use. Athletes may also greatly benefit from OPEP therapy because it can increase their overall performance during training and competitions. OPEP improves lung capacity, reduces exercise-mediated breathlessness, increases exercise tolerance, and speeds up recovery after working out.
AirPhysio, Luft for Life’s recommended OPEP device, supports the body’s ability to mobilize secretions and clear the airways from excess mucus. The mucus build-up may be caused by underlying respiratory diseases, allergies, pollutants, occupational dust, smoking, or aging.
The AirPhysio promotes efficient breathing and healthier lungs, resulting in reduced health-related stress and anxiety, and better quality of life.