Using an Incentive Spirometer

Using an Incentive Spirometer

Soon after your surgery, a nurse or therapist will teach you exercises. These keep your lungs clear, strengthen your breathing muscles, and help prevent complications.

The exercises include doing a deep-breathing exercise using a device called an incentive spirometer.

Before you start this exercise, place the noseclip on your nose, if one is provided. This causes you to breathe in through your mouth and not your nose. The incentive spirometer only works correctly if you breathe in through your mouth.

Four Steps to Clear Lungs
Man sitting in hospital bed with tube from incentive spirometer in his mouth. His lips are sealed around tube and he is blowing into it.
Deep breathing expands the lungs, aids circulation, and helps prevent pneumonia.

1. Exhale normally.

  • Relax and breathe out.

2. Place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.

  • Make sure the device is upright and not tilted.

3. Inhale as much air as you can through the mouthpiece (don't breath through your nose).

  • Inhale slowly and deeply.

  • Hold your breath long enough to keep the balls or disk raised for at least 3 seconds.

  • If you’re inhaling too quickly, your device may make a tone. If you hear this tone, inhale more slowly.

4. Repeat the exercise regularly.

  • Perform this exercise every hour while you're awake, or as your doctor instructs.

  • You will also be taught coughing exercises and be asked to perform them regularly on your own.