Open Resources for Nursing (Open RN)
Accessory muscles: Muscles other than the diaphragm and intercostal muscles that may be used for labored breathing.
Apnea: Absence of respirations.
Atelectasis: Alveoli or an entire lung is collapsed, allowing no air movement.
Barrel-chested: An equal AP-to-transverse diameter that often occurs in patients with COPD due to hyperinflation of the lungs.
Bradypnea: Decreased respiratory rate or slow breath less than normal range according to the patient’s age.
Bronchial breath sounds: High-pitched hollow sounds heard over trachea and the larynx.
Bronchovesicular sounds: Mixture of low- and high-pitched sounds heard over major bronchi.
Clubbing: A change in the configuration where the tips of the nails curve around the fingertips, usually caused by chronic low levels of oxygen in the blood.
Crackles: Also referred to as “rales”; sound like popping or crackling noises during inspiration. Associated with inflammation and fluid accumulation in the alveoli.
Crepitus: Air trapped under a subcutaneous layer of the skin; creates a popping or crackling sensation as the area is palpated.
Cyanosis: Bluish discoloration of the skin, lips, and nail beds. It is an indication of decreased perfusion and oxygenation.
Dyspnea: A subjective feeling of breathlessness.
Hemoptysis: Blood-tinged mucus secretions from the lungs.
Hypercapnia: Increased carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
Hypoxemia: Decreased levels of oxygen in the blood.
Kyphosis: Outward curvature of the back; often described as “hunchback.”
Orthopnea: Breathlessness or a feeling of shortness of breath when lying in a reclined position.
Pallor: A reduced amount of oxyhemoglobin in the skin or mucous membranes and causes skin and mucous membranes to present with a pale skin color.
Rales: Another term used for crackles.
Respiration: Includes ventilation and gas exchange at the alveolar level where blood is oxygenated and carbon dioxide is removed.
Retractions: The “pulling in” of muscles between the ribs or in the neck when breathing, indicating difficulty breathing or respiratory distress.
Stridor: High-pitched crowing sounds heard over the upper airway and larynx indicating obstruction.
Tachypnea: Rapid and often shallow breathing greater than normal range according to the patient’s age.
Ventilation: The mechanical movement of air into and out of the lungs.
Vesicular sounds: Low-pitched soft sounds like “rustling leaves” heard over alveoli and small bronchial airways.
Wheeze: High-pitched sounds heard on expiration or inspiration associated with bronchoconstriction or bronchospasm.