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Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:16 AM

Learning about Spirometers to enhance lung function

I just purchased something called an "incentive spirometer" on the recommendation of two kind DUers, OhioChick and Tavernier, on this very important thread by Meadowlander about nursing yourself through pneumonia at home: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100213134865#post7

This is a device that opens up the lungs and improves lung function.

On Amazon, they range in price from about $11 to $73. I settled on a unit that was around $39, not exactly knowing for sure what I'm getting, based on the reviews and the product description. There is a two week wait on the one I ordered, so others may be thinking about spirometers too.

It's a device you breathe through that challenges your lungs to work harder and open up. Most of them look small and are hand-held implements. Athletes use it and people with COPD, asthma, ex-smokers and others who want to improve lung function use a spirometer. It was recommended as a way to increase lung capacity and "open up" the airways within the lungs on the chance it might help prior to or during a bout of pneumonia. I don't know if having good or superior lung function can protect you against pneumonia. It is worth noting that several athletes have contracted the disease, but did they actually get pneumonia? I haven't seen any of the NBA stars hospitalized yet.

(Have any athletes diagnosed with COVID-19 been hospitalized?)

I'm posting this because I'd never heard of these before but they seem like a good way to prepare the lungs for a possible challenge, and one of the posters here said they can be used during a bout with pneumonia as well.

I'm NOT a doctor, just someone who is preparing mentally and physically to face the likely possibility I will get this thing. I'm also definitely not an expert on lungs, pulmonary medicine or anything like that. I'm just learning about this today. But maybe it could help somebody avoid or deal with this infection in the unfortunate event you get it and it tries to go for your lungs.

Here's a little bit more about spirometers:

An incentive spirometer is a medical device used to help patients improve the functioning of their lungs. It is provided to patients who have had any surgery that might jeopardize respiratory function, particularly surgery to the lungs themselves,[1] but also commonly to patients recovering from cardiac or other surgery involving extended time under anesthesia and prolonged in-bed recovery. The incentive spirometer is also issued to patients recovering from pneumonia or rib damage to help minimize the chance of fluid build-up in the lungs. It can be used as well by wind instrument players, who want to improve their air flow.

The patient breathes in from the device as slowly and as deeply as possible, then holds his/her breath for 2–6 seconds. This provides back pressure which pops open alveoli. It is the same maneuver as in yawning. An indicator provides a gauge of how well the patient's lung or lungs are functioning, by indicating sustained inhalation vacuum. The patient is generally asked to do many repetitions a day while measuring his or her progress by way of the gauge.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incentive_spirometer

I think by getting an incentive spirometer I purchased the right kind. The others measure lung function but don't seem to challenge or improve lung function.

Here's more than you probably want to know about the history of spirometers:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirometer#Types_of_spirometer

By all means, anyone with advice about or experience with spirometers please jump in and correct any mistakes I've made or add detail.

Also, check that DU thread above about living through pneumonia.

Everyone, good luck. We have to stick together and share any details or tips we come across. Some of them may be very valuable in the days ahead.


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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Learning about Spirometers to enhance lung function (Original post)
Mike 03 Mar 2020 OP
Lars39 Mar 2020 #1
ismnotwasm Mar 2020 #2
Mossfern Mar 2020 #3
ismnotwasm Mar 2020 #5
WyattKansas Mar 2020 #10
defacto7 Mar 2020 #4
silverweb Mar 2020 #6
procon Mar 2020 #7
Midnight Writer Mar 2020 #8
crickets Mar 2020 #9

Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:18 AM

1. One per person....don't share these.

For obvious reasons...but I just had to say it.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:21 AM

2. We give those to all post surgical patients to help prevent post surgery long complications

Including pneumonia. The reason we do this is because pain plus immobility can lead to people not taking deep enough breaths

I tell my patients its like “the gym for your lungs”

I think good breathing techniques, like yoga breathing, for healthy people would do just as much or more than an incentive spirometer

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #2)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:23 AM

3. I regret

tossing mine a few months after surgery a couple of years ago.

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Response to Mossfern (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:32 AM

5. Yeah

I’ve seen patients with prolonged stays, to the ICU and back to the floor, have two or three of them. I bet they all got thrown out.

It’s interesting, because my hospital has been actively trying to be less wasteful over the last few years, and now, we are not going to have the luxury of being wasteful.

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Response to Mossfern (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 02:34 PM

10. Me too...

I've tossed a couple of them. The last time I was in the hospital, I just told the nurse I had been using it.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:30 AM

4. Is this the device that makes a deep buzz when you breath in?

The hospital gave me one after pneumonia a few years ago. I didn't notice what it was called. It sort of oscillates something that makes the air vibrate.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:33 AM

6. Yup.

Bought mine last week and am using it several times a day. With a history of pneumonia twice in the past, I'm taking no chances. There's still too much I have to do to let some rogue clump of proteins take me down.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 10:50 AM

7. You can also get these through your doctor.

If you have any underlying or chronic respiratory condition you probably should be using one anyway, so call your doc and ask for one. Depending on your insurance coverage, these devices might be no out of pocket cost to you, but they are fairly cheap anyway.

If you can get one, you want the type that has the piston tube that lets you measure your effort so you can see that you are breathing into the mouthpiece correctly. The units without the measuring tube are much less useful.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 02:31 PM

8. I use a bong.

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Response to Midnight Writer (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 02:34 PM

9. Best laugh of the day! Thank you! nt

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