Tips to hear breath sounds

  1. What a day. I had physical assessment lab today and we were listening to heart and lung sounds. I was able to hear the heart sounds pristinely, but when it came to the breath sounds, I couldn't hear anything at all. I'm pretty sure I was in the right places, I know my steth works, the earpieces are pointing the right way, but I'm really aggravated that I couldn't hear anything. (I also have my first nursing test tomorrow, so I think I'm channeling all my stress toward the darn lung sounds).

    My two lab partners have Littmann Cardiology III's and were able to hear everything and ooh and ahh about it. My steth's not bad... the Classic SE II, but I couldn't hear anything.

    I tried listening to my own lung sounds and can kind of hear them, but not very clearly. My boyfriend promises to let me listen on him so I can try again. Is it likely I was in the wrong places? What could I be doing wrong? Do I need a different stethoscope?
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    About Megsd

    Joined: Mar '04; Posts: 814; Likes: 127
    Clinical Nurse
    Specialty: Neuro

    4 Comments

  3. by   TexasPediRN
    Practice makes perfect, so keep practicing!

    When I listen to lung sounds, I normally end up pushing the ear peices into my ear canal more so that I can hear better. I use one hand to hold the stethoscope in place, and the other to move the peice around the persons chest. I cant hear unless the ear peices are snug in my ears.


    You'll get better at it, and find your own niche in listening to lung sounds. Its not easy, nor is it easy at first to distinguish between all the different types of lung sounds. So just practice on everyone who lets you practice on them. Pretty soon you'll be a pro!

    Good luck!
    -Meghan
  4. by   Ayvah
    Make sure you are having the person take in a deep breath whenever you move the stethoscope and put the steth on the skin, not clothing. If you are able to hear the heart sounds, you should be able to hear the lung sounds when you are listening at the pulmonic and aortic areas of the heart (left and right intercostal space 2) Inspiration is easier to hear than expiration.
  5. by   webmansx
    Ayvah has some good advice.
    Also, I'm afraid to say the type of stethescope you have also matters. I just got the Littmann Cardiology III and the difference is remarkable!!! Wonder why I never did so before...oh! I remember why, its so darn expensive!! :S So if you like, invest in a good stethescope, especially if you plan to work on a cardiac floor or something related.
  6. by   That Guy
    Your stethoscope is fine, I worked on a cardiology unit and most the nurses use that scope that you have and we could hear the sounds just fine. You say they are in the right way, but can I ask which way the tips are pointing? I know lots of people that put them in the wrong way thinking they are in correct. Also posterior is way easier for me to hear breath sounds on my pts so try that as well if you arent already. A lot of the time you are just not used to what you are supposed to listen to and it takes time to recognize it.

    Oh one last thing, make sure the head of your stethoscope is rotated to the side you are listening through. It has happened many a times in lab that people have it rotated the wrong way.

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