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Patient Assessment and Lung Sounds

Patient Assessment and Lung Sounds (Breath Sounds)

Sometime during your patient assessment you must check lung sounds (also referred to as breath sounds). But what exactly are you listening for?Lung Sounds Breath Sounds

While breath sounds can be broken down into terms like Vesicular Breath Sounds, Bronchovesicular Breath Sounds, Bronchial Breath Sounds, and Adventitious Breath Sounds, what we are really concerned with is answering the following questions.

  1. Quality of breath sounds. Are the breath sounds normal, abnormal, absent?
  2. Intensity of breath sounds. Are the breath sounds normal, noisy, muffled, or diminished?
  3. Character of breath sounds. Are the breath sounds dry or wet (crackles)?

Listening to Lung Sounds (Auscultation)

Here are some tips for listening to breath sounds:

Lung Sounds - Anterior

  • Using your stethoscope auscultate lung sounds while the patient breathes normally with mouth open.Lung Sounds - Posterior
  • Auscultate the apices and middle and lower lung fields posteriorly, laterally and anteriorly. Use the diagrams illustrated here as a guide to auscultation sites.
  • Alternate and compare sides.
  • Listen to at least one complete respiratory cycle at each site.
  • First listen with normal respiration. If breath sounds are inaudible, then have the patient take deep breaths.
  • Note the quality, intensity, and character of breath sounds and make comparisons with the opposite side.

Below are some examples of various breath sounds to give you some practice.

Normal Breath Sounds

Vesicular Breath Sounds
Bronchial Breath Sounds
Bronchovesicular Breath Sounds

Abnormal Breath Sounds (adventitious)

High Pitched Crackles
Low Pitched Crackles
High Pitched Wheeze
Low Pitched Wheeze
Stridor
Pleural Friction Rub

For more information and some interactive examples check out the link below:
Easy Auscultation

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