Respiratory system symptoms and signs are important clues of some common illness such as pneumonia, lung cancer, COPD and asthma. Knowledge of the common medical terminology of the symptoms and signs helps in recognizing and communicating the illness to a doctor. The resultant early diagnosis often leads to better treatment outcomes.
Apnea – The cessation of breathing. – Apneic – adj.
Cheyne Stokes respiration – It is an abnormal pattern of breathing in which there is a gradual increase in the depth and sometimes in the rate of breathing, followed by a decrease in either or both resulting in apnea. The cycles are generally 30 seconds to 2 minutes in duration. It is a common characteristic of coma due to infection or injury to the brain. It is also present with central sleep apnea syndrome, depending on the cause.
Cyanosis – A bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin or mucous membranes resulting from deficient amounts of oxygen in the blood. Respiratory disease is a common but not sole cause.
Dyspnea – Shortness of breath or a sensation of breathlessness.
Dyspnea on exertion – Shortness of breath experienced during physical activity.
Hemoptysis – Coughing up of blood or bloody sputum from the lungs or airways. There are several causes. They include pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, lung cancer and blood clotting disorders.
Kussmaul breathing – Deep rapid labored breathing typically seen with diabetic ketoacidosis or diabetic coma.
Paroxysmal cough – A severe episodic cough which is continuous for a period of time.
Pleuritic chest pain – Sharp pain in the chest brought on or aggravated by deep inspiration. It is a common symptom of pleurisy but has other causes.
Productive cough – A cough which produces sputum.
Rales – The crackling sounds in the lungs audible with a stethoscope. Fluid in the lungs or scarring of the lung tissue produces them. Pneumonia is one cause.
Rhonchi – The coarse snoring-like sounds in the lungs that one can hear with a stethoscope. They are the result of the buildup of secretions in the airways of the lung.
Sputum – Mucus ± other matter brought up from the lungs and/or airways during coughing. It is the medical term for phlegm.
Stridor – A high-pitched harsh, crowing, or squeaky sound caused by an obstruction of the larynx or trachea. Infection of the upper airways of a child can also cause it.
Tachypnea – Rapid breathing consisting of more than 20 breaths per minute.
Wheeze – A whistling sound in the chest caused by narrowing or constriction of the airways. Asthma is a common cause.
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