An incentive spirometer is a device used to help you keep your lungs healthy after surgery or when you have a lung illness, such as pneumonia. The incentive spirometer teaches you how to take slow deep breaths.
After surgery, it may be too painful to take deep breaths. You may also feel too weak to take deep breaths. When you do not breathe deeply enough, this can lead to lung illness.
By using the incentive spirometer every 1 to 2 hours, or as instructed by your nurse or doctor, you can take an active role in your recovery and keep your lungs healthy.
Sit up and hold the incentive spirometer.
A piece in the incentive spirometer will rise as you breathe in.
Another, smaller piece in the incentive spirometer looks like a ball or disc.
Hold your breath for a 3 to 5 seconds. Then slowly exhale.
Take 10 to 15 breaths with your spirometer every 1 to 2 hours, or as often as instructed by your nurse or doctor.
Kulaylat MN, Dayton MT. Surgical complications. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 13.
Restrepo RD, Wettstein R, Wittnebel L, Tracy M. Incentive spirometry: 2011. Respir Care. 2011;56(10):1600-1604.
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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