Deep Coughing

Man holding pillow to chest, 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 deep coughing.

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. The concept is to hug the pillow.

  • 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 with as much air as you can.

Step 3

  • Cough 2 or 3 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.

Follow-up care

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

When to call your healthcare provider

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

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Signs of infection, if you've had surgery. These include redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at your incision site, or pus or fluid draining from the site

  • Brownish, white, or bloody sputum

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increasing pain

  • Dizziness or weakness

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat

Call 911

Shortness of breath may be a sign of a serious health problem. Call 911 if you have shortness of breath that gets worse or have trouble breathing, especially with any of the symptoms below:

  • Confusion or trouble staying awake

  • Loss of consciousness or fainting

  • Chest pain or tightness

  • Trouble breathing or wheezing

  • Bluish skin

  • Coughing up blood

  • Severe pain