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Percussion can be performed to help break up thick fluids in your lungs:

  1. Form a cup shape with your hand and wrist.
  2. Clap your hand and wrist against your chest (or have someone clap your back, if your doctor tells you to).
  3. You should hear a hollow or popping sound, NOT a slapping sound.
  4. Do not clap so hard that it hurts.

Do percussion for 5 to 7 minutes in each area of the chest. Do this on all of the areas of your chest or back that your doctor tells you to. When you finish, take a deep breath and cough.

Review Date 5/14/2014

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.