Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Term of the day: Auscultation

Last week in Assessment class, we learned how to use our stethoscopes to listen for various heart sounds. The week before, we did lung sounds.

AUSCULTATION - the act of listening to sounds occuring within the body

We're not expected to be able to hear faint sounds like heart murmurs this early on in our careers, just the basic abnormal sounds like crackles and wheezes in the lungs. Crackles (like Rice Crispies in milk or the sound made when you rub your hair between your fingers) indicate fluid in the lungs and point to things like pneumonia. Wheezes (a continuous, musical whistling) can be heard in people with pneumonia, but usually occur with things like asthma or bronchitis.

One of our instructors was reminding us of these and accidentally said "crackles and weasels". I busted out laughing. No disrespect to the instructor - it could happen to anyone - but the vision of carefully listening for the sound of tiny weasels romping about inside a person's lungs was too much.

Especially when I took it one step further, "Hmm. On the lower right side I'm hearing the distinctive sounds of crackheads and weasels."

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