Monday, May 22, 2006

Inhale, Exhale

I like to have fun with my patients in the exam room. One thing that happens a lot is that when I tell people to breathe deeply and I listen to their chest, the other people in the exam room take deep breaths with the patient. I am not certain if they are displaying to the patient how to breathe (in case they have forgotten) or if it is just a way of being encouraging, but it is a very common thing. One part of this that bothers me is that it lowers the air pressure in the room if there are enough people in the room - the shades in the window are drawn in, it just messes everything up.

The other thing that happens commonly with the stethoscope is that I have patients hold their breath while I listen for Carotid bruits (a whooshing sound that suggests cholesterol plaques in the carotid artery). If I forget to tell patients they can start breathing again, the sometimes keep holding their breath. It really gives me a sense of power that they need my permission to breathe (although the weight of the responsibility keeps me up at night).