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An incentive spirometer is a hand-held device that exercises your lungs and measures how much air you can breathe in. It tells you and your doctor how well your lungs are working.
The spirometer can help you practice taking deep breaths. Deep breaths can help open your airways and prevent fluid or mucus from building up in your lungs, and make it easier for you to breathe.
Using the device can help prevent serious lung infections like pneumonia, improve your breathing after you've had pneumonia or surgery, and keep your airways open and lungs active if you can't get out of bed.
When you use an incentive spirometer, you breathe in air through a tube that is connected to a large air column containing a piston or ball. As you breathe in, the piston or ball inside the column moves up. The height of the piston or ball shows how much air you breathed in.
You may feel light-headed when you breathe in deeply for this exercise. If you feel dizzy or feel like you're going to pass out, stop the exercise and rest.
Each time you do this exercise, keep track of your progress by writing down how high the piston or ball moves up the column.
Be sure to keep it level.
Make sure that you don't block the mouthpiece with your tongue.
Breathe in as deeply as you can. As you breathe in, the piston or ball inside the large column will move up.
This will help loosen any mucus that has built up in your lungs. It will make it easier for you to breathe. If you just had surgery on your belly or chest, hold a pillow over your cut (incision) when you cough.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: February 24, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
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