Monday, December 18, 2006

Portable Devices for Improving Lung Capacity

Flutter Valve

The Flutter Valve is one of the first portable devices invented for lung exercise in CFers. Its main purpose is to aid mucous clearance by providing positive pressure and a vibration within the lungs.

The most notable downside with the Flutter is its overall comfort. The entire thing is made from sturdy, unyielding plastic and is difficult to hold easily in the mouth. It is not a "hands-free" device, which is cumbersome for "on-the-go" types. Another disappointing aspect is that there is no way to increase or decrease the positive pressure exerted on the lungs.

Despite its aesthetic shortcomings, it is a nice small unit; very discrete. Comprised of only 5 separate pieces, taking it apart for cleaning/sterilization is a snap. A prescription may be required in order to obtain a Flutter Valve.

You can purchase the Flutter Valve here.


The Acapella functions in much the same way as the Flutter Valve. It generates vibrations and which aid in mucous clearance. It is a hand held device and a great deal larger than the Flutter.

A positive aspect of the Acapella is that the amount of resistance/oscillation is adjustable. The range of resistance is excellent, which makes it useful for most any degree of lung function. This product is pricier than the Flutter and has more pieces when it comes apart, making it more difficult to clean/sterilize. Like the Flutter, this is not a hands-free device which makes it less suitable for working in those treatments on the go.

There are 3 varieties of Acapella, each designed to accommodate a different level of air flow. In order to select the right one, the user should be relatively familiar with his/her present lung capacity.

A prescription may be required in order to obtain the Acapella.

Purchase an Acapella here


This product is not generally used for CF patients. However, research has been conducted on its efficacy for use by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Lung-Expander was designed for athletes who want to increase their ability to breathe effectively.

Unlike the Acapella and the Flutter, the Expand-A-Lung does not have a built-in functionality for loosening mucus. Its sole purpose is to increase lung capacity. According to the published studies, it does this quite well.

Positive elements of the Expand-A-Lung are its price, size, and design. It costs half as much as the Flutter valve, and comes with a set of recommended breathing exercises. Satisfaction is guaranteed and it can be returned within a trial period of 30 days. Because it is only 4 inches long, the Expand-A-Lung is discrete and portable. The silicone mouthpiece looks quite comfortable and naturally prevents the user from breathing incorrectly (i.e. puffing out the cheeks.)

Like the Acapella, the Expand-A-Lung is offers varying resistance settings, which makes an individuals progress more easily detectable as lung function improves.

In order for this product to be maximally beneficial for a CFer, it would probably have to be used in conjunction with a vest treatment.

No prescription necessary.

Purchase this product here

The Acapella does come apart. The mouthpiece comes off and then you can open it and take the vibrating part out. The original blue ones were a pain because they could not be boiled, but the newer green ones can.
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