Breathing can become difficult for a patient after surgery, when they have pneumonia, a lung disease like (COPD), or if they become on extensive bed rest. The patient may find that they can only take small, shallow breaths. Breathing this way makes it harder to get air into the patient lungs and can cause fluid and mucus to build up in the lungs. This could cause a serious lung infection like pneumonia. An incentive spirometer is a breathing exercise used to help a patient take deep breaths and keep lungs clear after surgery.
Spirometer measures how much air a person can inhale and exhale as well as measures how fast they can exhale. Spirometer values below average may be a sign that a patient lungs are not functioning as well as they should be. Furthermore, a spirometer is a common office test used to diagnose asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and certain other conditions that affect breathing. Deep breathing exercises will help open the air sacs in the patient lungs and may reduce the chance of developing breathing complication after surgery.
It is important to teach the patient how uses the incentive spirometer after surgery and at home, so they too can be a part of monitoring their breathing patterns. It is also essential to let the patient know how a spirometer plays a significant role in a respiratory examination. When you first begin to instruct your patient you want to point out a few helpful hints that can aid in the process. First, you should tell the patient that they should check with their physician to make sure whether they should avoid the use of inhaled breathing medications or any other medications before the test.
Also, educate the patient to wear loose clothing that won’t hinder with their ability to take a deep breath as well as avoid eating a large meal before the test so it will be easier to breathe. Once the patient is ready to begin have them sit up straight if possible. For patients that cannot sit all the way up have them sit up as far as they possibly can. It is also helpful if they can sit at the edge of a bed or chair. Inform the patient to hold the spirometry up right and breathe directly in make sure their lips are tightly
around the mouthpiece and to take a slow deep breathe through their mouth. Let the patient know that as they take a deep breath, the piston in the clear chamber of the incentive spirometer will rise. It is vital to inhale slowly to allow the air sacs in the lungs time to open. Some incentive spirometer may have an indicator to let you know if they are inhaling too fast, after coach the patient to breathe in as deeply as they can, tell them to hold their breath for 3 to 5 seconds, set the goal indicator tab at the level that they reach.
Take out the mouthpiece and allow the client to breathe out slowly tell them to relax and breathe normally for a few seconds until the piston returns to the bottom of the chamber. Repeat the initial steps for a total of 10 times every 1 to 2 hours or as arranged by the doctor. If the patient reports they feel lightheaded or dizzy, slow down breathing and give them more time between the deep breaths.
After they are done with the 10 deep breathing exercises, it is very important to instruct the patient to take a deep breath and cough to clear the mucus from the lungs. If they have had surgery on their chest or stomach, support their incision by holding a pillow or folded blanket firmly against their incision. This will provide support and lessen the pain they may feel when they cough. Other helpful considerations to inform your patient with is to let them know that pain control is important when doing breathing exercises with the incentive spirometer.
If the patient is experiencing pain stop and rest and start again if it continues let the doctor know, it is harder for the patient to take a deep breath if they are having pain. Encourage the patient to continue to use your incentive spirometer when they go home. Regular use of your incentive spirometer while the patient is still recovering at home will help with the clearance in the lungs. Lastly, keep the incentive spirometer within reach so the patient will remember to use it as ordered.