Tuberc Respir Dis > Volume 54(4); 2003 > Article
Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases 2003;54(4):378-385.
DOI:    Published online April 1, 2003.
Does the Layman Understand "the Whistling Sounds when Breathing out" as Real Wheezing?.
Seung Hun Jang, Seung Hyun Jung, Kwang Seok Eom, Taerim Shin, Chul Hong Kim, Joon Woo Bahn, Dong Gyu Kim, Myung Jae Park, In Gyu Hyun, Ki Suck Jung
Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Anyang, Korea.
Wheezing is an important clue in the diagnosis of asthma. Previously, a Korean National asthma survey used a written questionnaire, containing the question, "Have you ever experienced a breathing sound-like 'sack-sack' or a flute sound (the Korean description for wheezing) during the last 12 months?" The response to this question showed a large discrepancy between the prevalence of wheezing and physician diagnosed asthma. This might have resulted partly from a misunderstanding of the question, due to an inadequate description for wheezing. This study was aimed at finding how well the layman understands the term "wheezing" when described as a breathing sound-like 'sack-sack', a whistle or a flute. SUBJECTS AND METHOD: Sixty subjects, without experience of wheezing(group I), and 45 subjects, with chronic cough alleging wheezing(groupII), were recruited from the Hallym University's Sacred Heart Hospital, in Anyang, Korea. Four different breathing sounds; vesicular, wheezing, tracheobronchial and crackle, were played for the subjects, without any experience with wheezing, and they were asked "which sound is most like that you would imagine when asked about a breathing sound-like 'sack-sack', a whistle or a flute?" This was followed by replaying the true wheezing sound, and then a global assessment was requested for the concordance between the real wheezing sound and the imagined wheezing sound. The wheezing sound was played for those subjects alleging wheezing, and they were asked, "have you really experienced that sound". RESULTS: Only 46.7% of group I answered correctly, with 13.3% choosing the vesicular sound, 16.7% the tracheobronchial sound, 5.0% the crackle and 18.3% failed to answer. The concordance between their imagined wheezing and the real sound was 69.3+/- 22.4%(mean+/-S.D.). 77.8% of groupII recognized the correct sound as the one they had experienced. CONCLUSIONS: Language is not sufficient to the layman for describing natural sounds, such as wheezing.
Key Words: Wheezing, Questionnaire, Laymen
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