Abnormal Lung Sounds

For interpreting abnormal lung sounds we will need to use technology as most of your classmates, friends and family will have normal “clear” lung sounds.

Head out to YouTube and search for videos that play lung sounds. Also, while attending clinical shifts, use your patient interactions as an opportunity to listen to as many lung sounds as you can. The more lung sounds you listen to, the more proficient you will get at distinguishing the different sounds. Also, when talking to other medical providers don’t forget to use the new fancy medical terminology, such as: auscultate, bilateral, unilateral, apex, base, axillary, posterior, anterior.

 Use the common lung sounds noted below to practice over several days.

  • Normal / Clear – Air moving in and out freely with no difficulty.
  • Crackles / Rales – Fluid in the lungs from pulmonary edema and heart failure.
  • Rhonchi – Mucus and immune cells from infection or aspiration.
  • Wheezing – Narrowing of the lower airways including bronchi and bronchioles from Asthma, COPD, anaphylaxis.
    • Wheezing is also further described as being inspiratory, expiratory or heard on both.
  • Stridor – Narrowing of upper airway and trachea from anaphylaxis and choking (high-pitched sound)
Lung Sounds Skills Verification Table

Lung Sounds










10 (instructor)




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Oregon EMS Psychomotor Skills Lab Manual Copyright © 2023 by Chris Hamper, BS, NRP; Carmen Curtz, Paramedic, BS; Holly A. Edwins, Paramedic, B.S.; and Jamie Kennel, PhD, MAS, NRP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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