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A respiratory rate that is persistently slower than normal for age; in adults, a rate slower than 12 breaths/min


A respiratory rate that is persistently faster than normal for age; in adults, a rate faster than 12 breaths/min

Hyperpnea (hyperventilation)

A respiratory pattern characterized by rapid, deep breathing

Air trapping

A respiratory pattern associated with an obstruction in the pulmonary tree; the breathing rate increases to overcome resistance in getting air out, the respiratory effort becomes more shallow, the volume of trapped air increases, and the lungs inflate

Cheyne-Stokes Respirations

A pattern of gradually increasing rate and depth of breathing that tapers to slower and shallower breathing with a period of apnea before the cycle repeats itself. Often described as a crescendo-decrescendo pattern or periodic breathing. May occur in children and older adults during sleep, but otherwise occurs in patients with brainstem abnormality or drug-induced respiratory compromise

Kussmaul Respirations

Deep, gasping respirations that may be slow or rapid. Often associated with metabolic acidosis, this breathing pattern is compensatory as it attempts to blow off excess CO2 build up in body

Biot's Respirations

Irregular respirations varying in rate and depth and interrupted with apnea; associated with increased intracranial pressure, brain damage at the level of the medulla, and respiratory compromise from drug poisoning

Central Neurogenical Hyperventilation

Similar to Kussmaul respirations; characterized as deep, rapid breathing; associated with increased intracranial pressure

Agonal Respirations

Slow, shallow, irregular respirations resulting from anoxic brain injury


A musical, whistling sounds heard on inspiration and/or expiration resulting from constriction or obstruction of the pharynx, trachea, or bronchi. Commonly associated with asthma.

Crackles (rales)

When fluid accumulates in the smaller airway passages, air passing through the fluid creates a moist crackling or popping sound heard on inspiration. Commonly associated with pulmonary edema

Rattles (ronchi)

Secondary to inflammation and mucous or fluid in the large airway passages, rattles, or ronchi, are descriptive of airway congestion heard on inspiration. Rhonchi are commonly associated with bronchitis or pneumonia

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