An incentive spirometer is a medical device used to help patients improve the functioning of their lungs. It is provided to patients who have had any surgery that might jeopardize respiratory function, particularly surgery to the lungs themselves, but also commonly to patients recovering from cardiac or other surgery involving extended time under anesthesia and prolonged in-bed recovery. The incentive spirometer is also issued to patients recovering from pneumonia or rib damage to help minimize the chance of fluid build-up in the lungs. It can be used as well by wind instrument players, who want to improve their air flow.
An incentive spirometer. The inhalation nozzle is towards the camera, the curved plastic on the left is a handle, the plunger is in the middle (along with an adjustable mark to indicate a goal) and on the right side is an indicator showing whether the patient is inhaling too rapidly
The patient breathes in from the device as slowly and as deeply as possible, then holds his/her breath for 2–6 seconds. This provides back pressure which pops open alveoli. It is the same maneuver as in yawning. An indicator provides a gauge of how well the patient's lung or lungs are functioning, by indicating sustained inhalation vacuum. The patient is generally asked to do many repetitions a day while measuring his or her progress by way of the gauge.
- Spirometer, a device for measuring lung capacity.
- "How to use an incentive spirometer". The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
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