This leaflet answers common questions and reminds you how to use your acapella device. If you would like further information, or have any worries, please do not hesitate to ask your respiratory physiotherapist.
What is an Acapella OPEP Device and how does it work?
An Acapella is a type of oscillatory positive expiratory pressure device. It provides a slight resistance as you breathe out, which creates a small amount of back pressure in your airways.
This helps them to stay fully open, rather than collapsing. A rocker mechanism in the device causes the air travelling through your lungs to vibrate, which helps loosen secretions from the airway walls. These two things together can help make airway clearance easier and more effective.
What are the benefits of using an acapella device?
Some people with chronic lung conditions find they have sputum/phlegm that can be difficult to clear. The acapella can help with this.
Performing regular airway clearance may:
- help reduce the number of infections/exacerbations you have
- improve feelings of breathlessness
- reduce your need to cough throughout the day
- reduce further damage to your lungs
How to use your acapella
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Your physiotherapist will advise the best positions for you.
- Ensure your breathing is comfortable and you are not out of breath; if you are, spend a few minutes slowing down your breathing and relaxing your shoulders.
- Take a bigger than normal, but not very deep breath in, hold it for three seconds.
- Put the acapella in your mouth and tightly seal your lips around the mouthpiece.
- Blow out through your mouth firmly and steadily, keeping your cheeks flat and do not empty your lungs completely. You should feel vibrations in your chest and not in your cheeks.
- Repeat these breaths through the acapella. Try to suppress your cough during these breaths.
- If you feel there is sputum ready to clear, perform one or two huffs, followed by a cough if required.
- If the sputum is not yet ready to clear, then perform further cycles of breaths with the acapella.
- Continue with these steps for a minimum of 10 minutes. You should perform this when you are well and increase this if you are unwell.
Cleaning your acapella
It is important to clean your acapella every day. This can be done by washing in hot soapy water and air drying or putting in the top shelf of the dishwasher. It must be taken apart for cleaning.
To take apart:
- Pull the mouthpiece off.
- Press the lines on either side of the device and lift the top up to a right angle.
- Carefully remove the top piece from the hinge on the bottom piece.
- Remove the white flutter piece – this piece does not come apart further.
- You should have four pieces like in the picture below.
If you wash your acapella by hand, it is advisable to sterilise it once weekly in boiling water for five minutes or using a steam steriliser. For further information, please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.