Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Breathing Exercises: Using a Manual Incentive Spirometer
COVID-19 Info: Vaccines (5 & up) | Boosters | Testing | Visitor Guidelines | Stats | More
IMPORTANT NOTICE: COVID-19 testing appointments are not available at Cone Health emergency departments or urgent care locations. Click here for testing options.
Breathing can be hard after you've had surgery, when you have a lung disease like COPD, or if you're on bed rest. You may find that you can only take small, shallow breaths. Breathing this way makes it harder to get air into your lungs and can cause fluid and mucus to build up in your lungs. This could cause a serious lung infection like pneumonia.
Using an incentive spirometer can help you practice taking deep breaths, which can help open your airways, prevent fluid or mucus from building up in your lungs, and make it easier for you to breathe.
When you use an incentive spirometer, you'll breathe in air through a tube that is connected to a large air column containing a piston or ball. As you breathe in, the piston or ball inside the column moves up. The height of the piston or ball shows how much air you breathed in.
You may feel lightheaded when you breathe in deeply for this exercise. If you feel dizzy or like you're going to pass out, stop the exercise and rest.
You may only be able to raise the piston or ball a short distance up the column at first. As you use the spirometer, you should be able to breathe in more air over time and get back to the level that is normal for you.
Each time you do this exercise, keep track of your progress by writing down how high the piston or ball moves up the large column. This will help you and your doctor know how well your lungs are working.
Current as of:
July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineRohit K Katial MD - Allergy and Immunology
Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Rohit K Katial MD - Allergy and Immunology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.