Abnormal breath sounds

Breath sounds are an important part of respiratory assessment and are usually assessed by the respiratory team.

Sound Characteristic Signs of
Wheezing Whistling sound, generally heard on


Asthma and airway obstruction
Stridor Snoring sound heard on inspiration Typical of obstruction, sputum plug or

foreign body, anaphylactic reaction

Crackles A crackling or popping sound Collapsed alveoli popping open on


Rhonchi Snoring or rattling sounds Fluid partly blocking the bronchi; generally

heard on expiration

Pleural friction A grating or rubbing sound heard on

inspiration and expiration

Indicative of pleural inflammation

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