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Discharge Instructions: Using an Incentive Spirometer

An incentive spirometer is a device that helps you do deep breathing exercises. These exercises will help you breathe better and improve the function of your lungs. The incentive spirometer provides a way for you to take an active part in your recovery.

Follow these steps to use your incentive spirometer


Inhale normally. Relax and breathe out.

  • Place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.

  • Make sure the device is upright and not tilted.

  • Inhale as much air as you can through the mouthpiece (don't breathe through your nose). If you inhale too quickly, the spirometer may make a noise. If you hear this noise, inhale more slowly.

  • Hold your breath long enough to keep the balls (or disk) raised for at least 5 seconds.

  • Do this exercise every hour while you’re awake or as often as your health care provider instructs.

  • If you were also taught coughing exercises, perform them regularly as instructed.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to seek medical care

Call your health care provider immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath that is not relieved by your medication

  • Chest pain

  • Fever above 101.0°F  (38.3°C)

  • Brownish, bloody, or smelly sputum

  • Blue lips or fingernails


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