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Discharge Instructions: Postsurgical Deep Coughing

Deep coughing helps keep your lungs clear. If you’ve had surgery, this will help you get better faster. Deep coughing also helps you breathe easier and may prevent a lung infection. Follow these steps to do postsurgical deep coughing.

 

When to seek medical care

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever above 101.5°F (38.65°C)

  • Signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or warmth at your incision site

  • Drainage, bleeding, or pus from your incision

  • Brownish or bloody sputum

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Shortness of breath

Step 1

  • Sit on the edge of a bed or a chair. You can also lie on your back with your knees slightly bent.

  • Lean forward slightly.

  • If you've had surgery on your chest or stomach, hold a pillow or rolled-up towel firmly against your incision with both hands.

  • Breathe out normally.

Step 2

  • Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose.

  • Then breathe out fully through your mouth. Repeat this breathing in and out a second time.

  • For the third time, take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Fill your lungs as much as you can.

Step 3

  • Cough two or three times in a row. Try to push all of the air out of your lungs as you cough.

  • Relax and breathe normally.

  • Repeat the above steps as directed.

Image of woman hugging pillow to her chest.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Last Review Date: 10/22/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.