The relationship between normal lung sounds, age, and gender

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 Sep;162(3 Pt 1):905-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.162.3.9905104.


Auscultation is one of the most important noninvasive and feasible methods for the detection of lung diseases. Systematic changes in breathing sounds with increasing age are of diagnostic importance. To investigate these changes, we recorded lung sounds taken from four locations in the posterior thorax of 162 subjects, together with airflow. The data were analyzed according to age, sex, and smoking habit. In order to describe the power spectrum of the lung sounds, we calculated mean and median frequency, frequency with the highest power, and a ratio (Q) of relative power of the two frequency bands of 330 to 600 Hz and 60 to 330 Hz. Linear regression analysis was used as a measurement of age-dependence of these variables. Significant differences in Q were found in men versus women (p < 0.05), but not in smokers versus nonsmokers. Within the groups, a small but significant correlation existed between Q and age (r(2) </= 0.1, p < 0.05). For both men and women, a slight increase of the relative power in the frequency band of 330 to 600 Hz was recorded with increasing age. However, on the basis of large individual variations, these small changes (DeltaQ approximately 5%, SD(Q) >/= +/- 5%) have no clinical significance and need not to be considered in the automatic detection of lung diseases by analyzing lung sounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Auscultation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Sounds / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / physiopathology