21 Apr 2022


Deep Breathing and Coughing in Post-Surgical Patients

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 897

Pages: 3

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After undergoing a surgical operation, patients are often advised to adhere to their postoperative care. Postoperative care can be defined as the care that a patient receives after undergoing surgery (Pietrangelo, 2017). This care is normally prescribed to post-surgical patients with the sole purpose of enabling an efficient recovery. This is because, after surgery, different complications often arise and this affects a patient's healing process. For an efficient recovery, therefore, there is a need for post-surgical care. There are a number of practices that are associated with post-surgical care. These practices include physical exercises, special dietary and deep breathing among much more. However, patients are often advised to consult the medical practitioner responsible for the surgery regarding the appropriate activities associated with their postoperative care. With regard to evidence-based practice, it has been identified that deep breathing and coughing are among the important practices of post-surgical care. This paper analyzes the effects of breathing and coughing to a post-surgical patient. 

The type of clinical practice adopted in this paper is the evidence based practice. According to Spring (2007), there are three basic principles that are often integrated into evidence-based practice. These include stipulating a research evidence aimed at determining whether a treatment works, application of an expert skill and clinical experience to the patient's problem for the purpose of diagnosis and finally adhering to the preferences and social values of the patient. This means that medical practitioners are not only expected to come up with the best healthcare provision to their patients but to also consider the effects of the practices to the social values and preferences of their patients. The evidence-based practice adopted has been complimented by a PICOT criteria which provides the methodology used in researching the above mentioned clinical problem. The PICOT methodology therefore, adopted by the evidence-based practice, has improved quality healthcare provision globally. 

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PICOT Criteria Worksheet

P Population Postoperative care in post-surgical patients. 
I Intervention Deep breathing and coughing exercises performed while lying on the bed for about ten minutes with a 1 hour intervals between the exercises.
C Comparison Post-surgical patients who performed deep breathing and coughing were more active and energetic compared to post-surgical patients who only performed physical exercises. 
O Outcome

Patient appeared to be active and in a position to perform other strenuous post-surgical exercises effectively without fatigue. 

This translates to a quick and efficient recovery process. 

T Time Exercises should be done repeatedly for 10 minutes. 

Deep breathing and coughing are important practices that post-surgical patients should be involved in with the aim of attaining an efficient recovery process. There are many merits associated with deep breathing and coughing to post-surgical patients. There are also movements that should be adhered to while practicing the deep breathing and frequent coughing. According to Alberta Health Services (2014), deep breathing and coughing are important for a post-surgical patient because it enables a patient to perform the other strenuous post-surgical exercises easily. Breathing and coughing are often associated with clearing the lungs of a post-surgical patient. With clear lungs, a patient can efficiently perform the other postoperative practices with ease in order to attain an effective recovery process. 

The deep breathing exercises can be practiced in a number of ways. However, because most post-surgical patients are often bedridden, the practices adopted by this evidence-based practice are done while the patient is awake and is sitting upright on his or her bed. The breathing and coughing exercises should be done as frequently as possible for a duration of approximately ten minutes with an interval of 1 hour between the exercises. This interval duration enables the patient to perform other post-surgical practices that he or she would have been instructed by the doctor in charge. 

Deep breathing is a simple exercise that involves breathing in deeply in a slow manner often done through the nose. Breathing the mouth is only allowed when the patient is suffering from a flue. In the course of the inhalation process, the patient should ensure that his or her rib cage is fully expanded and the abdomen is as far forward as possible in order to attain the best results. The inhaled air should then be held in the lung cavity for about 5 seconds before exhaling. Like in inhalation, breathing out should also be performed slowly and completely before another inhalation is done. This simple practice is repeated for a number of times for a duration of ten minutes after until the preceding hour. 

Coughing exercise, just like the deep breathing exercise is done on the bed as the patient lies on their back with his or her knees bent. The bending of the knees should, however, be included only if the patient is in a position to do so comfortably. In order to attain a suitable coughing position, the patient should always ensure that their back if firmly rested on the bed for maximum body support. Coughing can then be done by breathing in deeply and coughing firmly. This exercise should also be repeated for a number of times just like the breathing exercise. The two exercises can also complement one another in intervals for the best results and quicker recovery process. 

Post-surgical patients who involve themselves in deep breathing and coughing exercises have been found to be more flexible and active as compared to patients who only do physical post-surgical exercises. This is because, deep breathing and coughing help the respiratory tract by cleaning and moisturizing the path followed by air to the lungs (Surgery, 2017). Through deep breathing and coughing, a patient receives the required amount of oxygen for respiration in order to attain more energy in the body. The energy attained thus acts as a driving force for the rest of the physical post-surgical exercises that could be strenuous. Breathing and coughing are therefore among the important practices in postoperative care. 


Alberta Health Services, (2014). Deep Breathing, Coughing, and Moving After Surgery . [online] 

Myhealth.alberta.ca. Retrieved from https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Alberta/Pages/deep-breathing-coughing-after-surgery.aspx.

Pietrangelo, A. (2017). Postoperative Care . [online] Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/postoperative-care 

Spring, B. (2007). Evidence-based practice in clinical psychology: What it is, why it matters; what you need to know. Journal of Clinical Psychology , [online] 63(7), pp.611-631. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20373.

Surgery, D. (2017). Deep breathing after surgery: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia . [online] Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000440.htm 

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