Unknown to the naked human ear, breath sounds or lung sounds can be indicative of an underlying disease. When we breathe, we don’t hear anything unusual, not unless we have colds or cough. But inside our body, specifically in our lungs, certain sounds are emanating and these can be deemed abnormal. Asking someone to press their ear onto your chest won’t work – you need a stethoscope to do the job.
As part of every comprehensive physical examination, physicians are required to auscultate. This involves using the stethoscope to listen to sounds inside the body – lung sounds, intestinal sounds, and heartbeat. Through auscultation, the physician can assess whether or not abnormal breath sounds are present.
Explaining and describing abnormal lung sounds in words won’t do them justice; there are a lot of clips available online that you can listen to so you can get a better grasp of it. However, a detailed explanation will suffice for a basic understanding of breath sounds.
What are abnormal lung sounds?
Abnormal lung sounds are usually of two types – absence of sound, or the presence of a normal sound where and when it’s not supposed to be heard. For instance, bronchial (loud) sounds shouldn’t be heard in peripheral areas, since vesicular sounds should predominate here. Cases like these indicate either a compression or consolidation of the lungs.
Adventitious breath sounds are heard on top of the normal sounds, and physicians have classified them into a few for better identification and diagnosis.
How are they classified?
These abnormal breath sounds are classified into 4 main types, each with its own characteristics.
These are heard due to the presence of liquid in the passageway, as air is forced through it. These are actually discontinuous sounds (but they may be heard otherwise), are non-musical, intermittent, and brief. These are usually associated with inflammation of the bronchioles and/or other structures.
Rales are further divided into fine, medium, and coarse. The sound of fine rales can be simulated by rubbing a strand of hair close to your ear. They are rather soft, brief, and high-pitched. Coarse rales are low-pitched and louder.
The high-pitched, shrill-like sound is caused by forcing air through a narrow passageway, whatever the cause of the narrowing. As opposed to rales, wheezes have a more musical quality and are heard continuously during inspiration or expiration, or on both.
Depending on the quality of the sound, rhonchi are either sibilant (high pitched and musical, as seen during asthma attacks) or sonorous (low pitched that sounds like a snore, as seen in bronchitis).
This is a rather high pitched sound heard during inspiration due to the obstruction of an upper passageway. This needs attention at once.
4. Pleural Rub
This low-pitched and grating sound is due to two inflamed surfaces rubbing together upon inspiration.
Conditions mentioned above require immediate care, and physicians usually prescribe medication such as Nicocure Lung Health supplement. Since this is a supplement, it’s best taken before the onset of the condition or before it worsens. As they say, prevention is better than cure, so better start on Nicocure before it’s too late. Consult your physician before taking the supplement.
You can listen to the abnormal lung sounds below: