How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer

  1. Sit upright in a chair or in bed. Hold the incentive spirometer at eye level.
  2. Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips tightly around it. Slowly breathe out (exhale) completely.
  3. Breathe in (inhale) slowly through your mouth as deeply as you can. As you take the breath, you will see the piston rise inside the large column. While the piston rises, the indicator on the right should move upwards. It should stay in between the 2 arrows (see Figure 1).
  4. Try to get the piston as high as you can, while keeping the indicator between the arrows.
    1. If the indicator doesn’t stay between the arrows, you’re breathing either too fast or too slow.
  5. When you get it as high as you can, hold your breath for 10 seconds, or as long as possible. While you’re holding your breath, the piston will slowly fall to the base of the spirometer.
  6. Once the piston reaches the bottom of the spirometer, breathe out slowly through your mouth. Rest for a few seconds.
  7. Repeat 10 times. Try to get the piston to the same level with each breath.
  8. After each set of 10 breaths, try to cough, holding a pillow over your incision, as needed. Coughing will help loosen or clear any mucus in your lungs.
  9. Put the marker at the level the piston reached on your incentive spirometer. This will be your goal next time.