While an incentive spirometer may, at first glance, look like a very intimidating instrument or device, its use in a healthcare setting (or in a patient's home) has proven to be invaluable for patients who are recovering from surgery. In order to help facilitate maximum lung expansion, while ridding the lungs of the anesthesia that is typically introduced for an extended period of time during surgery, teaching regarding proper incentive spirometer use has become paramount to the delivery of effective nursing care. Even though the use of this small, compact, device is typically recommended for patients immediately following a surgical procedure, the truth is that it can be used by any patient who has experienced any one of a wide array of compromised lung conditions and problems to include pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumothorax (collapsed lung). Those who have made a habit of chronically smoking can also derive great benefit from the airway passage opening, and mucus clearing, benefits of using an incentive spirometer.

Of the many brands of incentive spirometers that are currently available on  the market, the Airlife incentive spirometer includes a small handful of instructions, because of its unique design and benefits, that deviate from those of its nearest competitors. With the Airlife incentive spirometer, a patient's breathing can be effectively regulated with the integrated coaching indicator. Similar to what many other spirometers have integrated, a patient's physician can also set realistic, measurable, and obtainable patient goals in accordance with the easily adjustable goal setting marker. Where many patients may be introduced to this device, only to never use it, having a goal setting functionality can empower a patient to be actively involved in their own care and recovery.

Step #1

Clear Out Secretions

Many respiratory conditions lend themselves to the continual production of secretions, such as sputum and mucus. Prior to using the incentive spirometer, it is important that a patient clear these secretions into a tissues or a napkin that a nurse provides to you. If you are recovering at home, with no dedicated nursing care, these are simple supplies that you will want to have at your bedside (or, easy access to). While an inentive spirometer will naturally help to maximize your lung volume capacity, it won't hurt to clear out as much secretion as possible prior to use.

Step #2

Assume Proper Positioning

An Airlife incentive spirometer can essentially be used from any position, however, there are certain body positions that, when assumed, will cause your lungs to derive as much benefit as possible from the unhindered ability of your lungs to expand. In this case, lying on your side or on your chest just won't facilitate the benefit that sitting up strait in a chair or in bed will do. If you find yourself experiencing a great deal of pain or discomfort by attempting to assume a complete upright position, especially following the trauma of surgery, it is important that you not force yourself into a position that elicits these responses. In order to maximize your benefit from incentive spirometry, you will want to achieve as close to an upright position as possible.