On this page we provide a definition of rhonchi, including its clinical significance. We then compare it to rales, with audio recordings and text. Finally, we summarize the rhonchi training lessons available on this site.

Our rhonchi lesson can be found in this course. Secondly, our reference index is designed to provide quick access to stridor sounds, with audio tracks, listening guides and waveforms. Use this link for quick reference to heart and lung sounds.

Rhonchi Definition

Rhonchi are continuous low-pitched, rattling lung sounds that often resemble snoring. Obstruction or secretions in larger airways are frequent causes of rhonchi. They can be heard in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, or cystic fibrosis. Rhonchi usually clear after coughing.


Listen for lower pitched, snoring or rattle-like sounds.

Audio Playback

virtual auscultation of patient torso

auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is seated.


Compare To Rales

Rhonchi can be compared to rales using this audio playback buttons. Listen for rales which are discontinuous, popping sounds similar to Velcro being pulled apart.

virtual auscultation of patient torso

auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is seated.

Quick Links to Other Breath Sounds

While we have many breath sound lessons and quick references on this website. Please use the links below.

Rhonchi Lesson

A lesson on rhonchi sounds is included in our Basics of Lung Sounds course. We suggest taking the full course (about 15-20 minutes), but the lesson can be used without the full course.

Authors and Reviewers

These authors contributed the sound recordings and text descriptions found in this section: Diane Wrigley, PA, William French, and David Lieberman.
Medical review by Dr. Barbara Erickson, PhD, RN, CCRN.
Special thanks for the medical leadership of Dr Raymond Murphy.

Authors and Reviewers


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