An incentive spirometer is a device used by a patient either in a hospital setting or as prescribed by a physician that measures how full your lungs inflate with each breath you take. While typically used to assist in keeping the lungs clear after surgery, it can also be used to assist in regulating breathing for asthma as well as helping someone strengthen and exercise their lungs.
An incentive spirometer basically measures lung capacity, or how much air is needed to inflate the lungs, in a patient. Air blown into the cylinder provides volume measurements which help the physician or nurse determine how much a patient lungs are expanding. This also will inform the care providers as to how much oxygen is being provided to a persons system.
Use of a spirometer is generally dictated by a physician. Not only does it enable a person to exercise their lungs, thereby increasing their breathing capacity, but it also assists in detecting any respiratory problems that may occur after surgery or in conjunction with lung blood clots. For example, if a patient is suffering from a clot, breathing deeply and completely can be painful. Patients and care givers can see how well medication is working as breathing becomes easier and lung capacity increases. The same can be said of post-operative care. In this case, the spirometer is used mainly to assist a patient who is unable to move comfortably keep their lungs clear and healthy, thereby reducing the risks of respiratory problems while hospitalized.
Filling your lungs deeply with good breathing techniques is an important part of maintaining health. When using a spirometer to monitor your breathing, it is vital to understand how a person breaths normally. For example, most people when stressed or upset, will breathe shallow breaths almost like panting. This restricts the air and oxygen flow into the body which increases a person's sense of disorientation and can cause dizziness. It is wise to get an evaluation of your breathing measurements as you do various tasks during the day such as walking, standing and sitting up, This will provide you and your care giver with an average reading.
The spirometer measures two areas; air flow and air volume. These areas and the numbers provided by the device, assist in diagnosing asthma and other respiratory ailments. When breathing occurs, small sacs deep in the lungs fill with air and expand. The fuller a person is able to inflate their lungs with air, the healthier the lungs will be, thereby decreasing healing times and helping to prevent any problems.
Using a spirometer
Using an incentive spirometer is much like sighing into a tube. While standing or sitting upright, take a breath and exhale. Place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece of the unit and inhale as deep as possible. This will raise the bar and provide the measurement needed. Hold your breath for at least 5 seconds before exhaling. Rest after each breath. Repeat as recommended by your physician.