Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
Physicians
myWDconnect Patient Portal
Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Health Library
Health Insurance Marketplace
Interpreter and Communication Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Records
Accountable Care Organization
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials
Food and Nutrition Services
Back to Health Library   Print This Page Print    Email to a Friend Email

Lungs
Lungs


Breath sounds
Breath sounds


Definition:

Breath sounds are the noises produced by the structures of the lungs during breathing.

See also: Wheezing



Alternative Names:

Lung sounds; Breathing sounds



Considerations:

The lung sounds are best heard with a stethoscope. This is called auscultation.

Normal lung sounds occur in all parts of the chest area, including above the collarbones and at the bottom of the rib cage. Using a stethoscope, the doctor may hear normal breath sounds, decreased or absent breath sounds, and abnormal breath sounds.

Absent or decreased sounds can mean:

  • Air or fluid around the lungs
  • Increased thickness of the chest wall
  • Over-inflation of a part of the lungs (emphysema can cause this)
  • Reduced airflow to part of the lungs

There are several types of abnormal breath sounds. The 4 most common are:

  • Rales
  • Rhonchi
  • Stridor
  • Wheezing

Rales are small clicking, bubbling, or rattling sounds in the lung. They are believed to occur when air opens closed air spaces. Rales can be further described as moist, dry, fine, and coarse.

Rhonchi are sounds that resemble snoring. They occur when air is blocked or becomes rough through the large airways.

Wheezes are high-pitched sounds produced by narrowed airways. They can be heard when a person breathes out (exhales). Wheezing and other abnormal sounds can sometimes be heard without a stethoscope.

Stridor is a wheeze-like sound heard when a person breathes out (exhales). Usually it is due to an obstruction of airflow in the windpipe (trachea) or in the back of the throat.



Common Causes:

Call your health care provider if:

Nasal flaring and cyanosis are emergency symptoms. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath can be an emergency condition. Seek immediate medical care if you have any of these symptoms.

Contact your health care provider if you have wheezing or other abnormal breathing sounds.



What to expect at your health care provider's office:

Your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history and your breathing.

Questions may include:

  • When did the breathing sound start?
  • How long did it last?
  • How would you describe your breathing?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

The health care provider usually discovers abnormal breath sounds. You may not even notice them.

The following tests may be done:




Review Date: 11/12/2007
Reviewed By: Andrew Schriber, M.D., F.C.C.P., Specialist in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Virtua Memorial Hospital, Mount Holly, New Jersey. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Find What You Need

Events
Careers
Foundation
About Us
Contact
Directions
News
Social Media Agreement
Joint Notice
Web Privacy Policy
WDH Staff Portal

Centers & Services

Cancer Center
Cardiovascular Care
Joint Replacement
Women & Children's
Physician Offices
Other Services

Conditions & Treatments

Health Library

Support Services

Support Groups
Care-Van
Dental Center
Social Work
Food & Nutrition
Integrative Wellness
Spiritual Care
Concerns & Grievances
Homecare and Hospice

For Patients

Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Interpreter Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Record Request
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials

For Healthcare Professionals

Work and Life
Financial Well-Being
Career and Growth

The Wentworth-Douglass Health System includes:

 

Address

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100