How to use an Incentive Spirometer
Incentive Spirometer Use Keeps Your Lungs Clear After Surgery
Incentive Spirometer use, or spirometry, is often prescribed by a doctor after surgery to help with recovery. Used in hospitals and homes, the Incentive Spirometer keeps your lungs active during recovery as if you were at home performing your daily activities. The Incentive Spirometer measures inspiratory volume, or how well you fill your lungs with each breath, and is also typically used by those with COPD and Asthma.
How to use the Incentive Spirometer:
- If possible, sit on the edge of your bed or sit up in bed as far as you can
- Hold your Incentive Spirometer in an upright position and place the mouthpiece in your mouth, sealing your lips around it
- Breathe in slowly and deeply, raising the yellow piston toward the top of the column. The coach indicator should be in the outlined area
- Hold your breath for as long as you can (at least 5 seconds); allow the piston to fall to the bottom of the column
- Rest for a few seconds, then repeat the above steps at least 10 times per hour when you are awake
Position the indicator on the left side of the Incentive Spirometer to show your best effort, and use the indicator as a goal during each incentive spirometry session. After each set of 10 deep breaths, be sure to cough to make sure your lungs are clear. If you have an incision, place a pillow firmly against it for support. Once you are able to get out of bed, walk in the hallway and cough well. You may discontinue use of the incentive Spirometer unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Why do we use in Incentive Spirometer?
Your lungs are composed of small air sacs called "alveoli"; deep breathing with an Incentive Spirometer helps to open up alveoli. Though you're probably not aware of it, you typically take many deep breaths every hour, sometimes in the form of a yawn or sigh. However, your breathing pattern may change and you may start taking short, shallow breaths when lying in bed for a long period of time (recovering from an injury or surgery). You also may take shallow breaths because of pain associated with chest or abdominal surgery. Using an Incentive Spirometer helps get you back to normal breathing rhythms. By inhaling deeply with your Incentive Spirometer, you help open areas of the lungs that may have collapsed and mobilize secretions.
Using an Incentive Spirometer will encourage you to take slow, deep breaths by mimicking natural sighing and yawning. After major surgeries, such as bypass surgery, it is important to take the Incentive Spirometer home with you to continue spirometry treatment. Not only will the Spirometer restore natural breathing rhythm, it helps you to avoid pneumonia and atlectasis.
The Incentive Spirometer provides measurements of two important parts of the breathing process:
- FEV1 (air flow)
- FEV6 forced vital capacity (air volume)
These numbers are simple expressions for complex processes, similar to how blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels measure complex processes. The numbers obtained for FEV1 and FEV6 from an Incentive Spirometer help physicians diagnose conditions such as Asthma and COPD, and help to monitor the course of respiratory disease in addition to their response to treatment.
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Author: Richard Chandler