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How to Use an Incentive Spirometer

Medically reviewed by: Katlyn Burr, RT

What Is an Incentive Spirometer?

An incentive spirometer is a hand-held device that helps people to take slow, deep breaths. It's like exercise equipment for the lungs to keep them strong and working well.

How Do I Use an Incentive Spirometer?

Your health care provider has set a marker for you. Your goal is to keep the piston (the blue disc in the main chamber in the picture above) at your marker as long as possible with each breath.

  1. Sit up straight and tall, and hold the spirometer in your hands.
  2. Take a deep breath in and let it out.
  3. Place the mouthpiece in your mouth. Make sure your lips completely cover the mouthpiece.
  4. Breathe in slowly through the mouthpiece (like sucking through a straw).
    • Keep the range indicator (little marker on the side chamber) in the target zone.
    • Breathe in until the piston gets to your mark.
  5. Hold your breath in for 3 seconds and then let it out.
  6. Repeat as prescribed, typically about 10 breaths every hour.

Before you know it, you'll be a pro!

Medically reviewed by: Katlyn Burr, RT
Date reviewed: November 2021