How to Use an Acapella Flutter Valve

What is a flutter valve and how does it work? How do you use it? How do they work? These are all questions that I get quite often.


So if you’re wanting to learn about acapella flutter valves, you’re in the right place because that is what this article is all about.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with your physician before performing any type of therapy on yourself or those around you.

What is a Flutter Valve?

A flutter valve is a handheld device that is used as a type breathing therapy. It helps to clear mucus from the lungs as well as make breathing easier and more comfortable. It is a triangularly shaped cylinder and is sometimes green or blue in color.

It’s a type of oscillatory PEP therapy that loosens secretions in the lungs and helps the patient to cough them up in order to clear the airways. The acapella causes both airway vibrations and positive expiratory pressure (PEP) therapy, so it essentially provides dual therapy for the patient.


What are the Indications for the Flutter Valve?

People who are suffering from chronic bronchitis and cystic fibrosis, among other cardiopulmonary diseases, sometimes produce a large amount of mucus in their airway.

This, of course, is a problem that needs to be solved, as it can lead to other issues. Besides, having mucus in an individual’s lung is just not healthy. That’s where the little gadget known as an acapella flutter valve can come in handy.

Here are the indications for using this device:

  • To prevent or reduce atelectasis
  • To help the patient remove secretions and clear the airways
  • To help reduce air trapping
  • To maximize the delivery of aerosolized medications to patients receiving bronchial hygiene therapy

How to Use the Flutter Valve?

For someone using a flutter valve for the first time, make sure the frequency adjustment dial is set counterclockwise to the lowest frequency-resistance setting. Now, sit in a chair by keeping your back straight. Keep your elbows resting comfortably on the table. Now, tilt your head slightly upward.

This will help to keep the upper airway open wide. As a result, the air you exhale will be able to flow out smoothly. 

Take a breath that is deeper than a normal inhalation. Make sure that your lips make a tight seal around the mouthpiece, then blow into the device with a forceful exhalation.

Typically, you should blow out about twice as fast as normal, but not as hard as you can.

Repeat this process for approximately 10 breaths.

After the final attempt, be sure to cough, in order to remove the secretions from the airways. You can even perform 2 to 3 “huff” coughs in order to increase secretion removal as needed. 

 Note: You must be able to exhale for at least three to four seconds while using the device. If you fail to maintain your exhalation for this advised length of time, then you need to turn the adjustment dial to increase the resistance.

This adjustment will help the patient exhale at a lower flow-rate by raising the total resistance of the vibrating orifice.

What are the Parts of a Flutter Valve?

  1. Removable mouthpiece
  2. Body of the device
  3. Expiratory resistance dial, which allows the patient to adjust the difficulty of breathing into the device
  4. One-way inspiratory valve
  5. Proximal 22 mm O.D. connection

Types of Acapella Flutter Valves

There are two types of acapella flutter valves that are available based on the patient’s expiratory flow:

  • Green – The green model is more difficult. It is indicated for patients that can generate an expiratory flow of > 15 L/min.
  • Blue – The blue model is less difficult. It is indicated for patients that can generate an expiratory flow of < 15 L/min.

How does the Flutter Valve Work?

The flutter valve device has a steel ball that rests inside near the valve. As the patient breathes into the device, the ball rattles against the valve causing vibrations. These vibrations helps to loosen secretions from the patient’s airways.

Also, as the patient blows into the device, back-pressure is created. This can ‘pop’ open the alveoli in the lungs, which helps to treat and prevent atelectasis.

What are the Contraindications for using a Flutter Valve?

There are no absolute contraindications for the use of a flutter valve. However, the following points need to be carefully assessed before a decision is taken to initiate this type of therapy:

  • Untreated pneumothorax
  • Hemoptysis
  • Intracranial pressure > 20 mmHg
  • Acute dyspnea
  • Severe nausea

What are the Hazards of using a Flutter Valve?

While you may not think that blowing into a small plastic device is dangerous, there are definitely some hazards and complications that you must be aware. This is why it’s important to consult with your doctor before using a flutter valve.

With that said, please keep the following hazards in mind:

  • Barotrauma in the lungs
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Decreased venous return to the heart
  • Increased work of breathing
  • Air swallowing that can lead to nausea or vomiting

Where Can I Purchase a Flutter Valve?

In order to purchase a flutter valve, it is possible that you may need a prescription from your doctor or medical care provider. Please consult with the proper caregivers before using any medical equipment.

With that said, you may also choose to purchase a flutter valve for yourself online for recreational use. They can actually be purchased on

Disclaimer: Due to high demand, these devices may be out of stock at this time. Please check regularly for in-stock items.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Now you know pretty much everything there is to know about the Flutter Valve. You know what it is, how to use it, and also when you wouldn’t want to use this device. 

Not to mention, you even know where you can purchase one for your own recreational use. Just be sure to check with your doctor first before purchasing and performing any type of Respiratory Therapist on yourself or others. 

I hope this information was helpful for you and I appreciate the fact that you read all the way to the end. I want to wish you the best of luck and as always, breathe easy, my friend. 

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