How Do You Use an Incentive Spirometer?

To use an incentive spirometer, hold the device in an upright position, cover the mouthpiece with your lips, breathe in slowly, hold your breath and then exhale slowly, recommends Cleveland Clinic. Sit up on the edge of your bed or sit up as best you can.

Rest for a few seconds after taking a breath, and then repeat the process 10 times every hour. Cough after each set of 10 breaths to ensure your lungs are clear, notes Cleveland Clinic. Monitor the piston inside the incentive spirometer to see how high it goes when you exhale. A sliding indicator denotes your best effort to exhale along the side of the marked column. Use an incentive spirometer to keep your lungs healthy following surgery. When you cough, support the incision with a pillow to ensure stitches do not fall out. This device aids the recovery process by keeping lungs active as if you were engaged in normal, daily activities.

The point of an incentive spirometer is to prevent lung infections such as pneumonia following surgery. The lungs may be too weak after surgery, so the device helps you take progressively deeper breaths. Shallow breaths and weak lungs may lead to lung illnesses, according to MedlinePlus. Patients generally notice an improvement in lung function the more they use an incentive spirometer.