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Cystic Fibrosis: Huff-Cough

What is huffing?

Huffing is similar to coughing. Instead of a forceful cough effect, air is let out steadily while whispering the word "huff," or as if trying to fog up a mirror. This "huff" forces the air and mucus from the small airways in the lung, making the cough more effective.

How do I huff?

  • A huff can be done after taking a large, medium, or small breath.
  • Sit with your back straight and your mouth slightly open.
  • Hold a tissue about two to three inches away from your mouth.
  • Take in a breath and hold for one to two seconds.
  • Breathe out steadily, exhaling as much air as you can with your mouth open.
  • Breathe out forcefully enough to move the tissue.
  • Use stomach muscles to help exhale.
  • Do two or three huff breaths followed by a forceful cough.

NOTE: If a "wheeze" sound is heard, you are breathing out too quickly. Breathe out more slowly.

What is an effective cough?

An effective cough is accomplished by taking a deep breath and holding that breath for one second, followed by a strong and forceful coughing effort.


If you have any questions, please call your doctor.

Last reviewed by Respiratory Care 8/2015

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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