Breath Sounds of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

In patients with COPD breath sounds may be diminished and expiration is prolonged.8 Coarse crackles heard at the beginning of inspiration are commonly heard in patients with COPD, especially those with chronic bronchitis.7 These crackles have a “popping-like” character, vary in number and timing and may be heard over any lung region.6 These early inspiratory crackles are frequently heard during expiration as well and coughing may cause these sounds to disappear.6 These coarse crackles are caused by the movement of boluses of gas through an intermittently occluded airway.7

Listen to the examples below to hear breath sounds recorded from patients with COPD.

Note: recordings were made with a 3M Littmann Electronic Stethoscope 3200 in a clinic setting with patients at rest.