The Real Reason Doctors Listen To Your Chest

Almost every doctor visit includes a series of assessments that give your provider a glimpse into your health. You can count on someone taking your blood pressure and asking you to step on a scale. As part of a routine physical exam, your physician may take a look inside your ears and check for excess wax buildup or other abnormalities. They may also examine the inside of your mouth to check for any unusual growths. By shining a light in your eyes, your doctor can see indications that suggest you may have diabetes or glaucoma, per WebMD. Your doctor may push on your abdomen to check for any tenderness as well.

Another common procedure involves the physician placing a stethoscope on your chest and asking you to take a series of deep breaths. This process is called auscultation, and it's valuable because it can tell your doctor many things about your health (via Medline Plus).

Auscultation tells your doctor about your lung and heart health

During auscultation, your doctor is actually listening for odd or abnormal sounds. One source of these sounds may be your lungs. Your physician will move the stethoscope from the top of your lungs to the bottom, listening for vibrations, whistling sounds, and wheezes, according to Verywell Health. Some of these sounds are normal, but others point to more serious conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. 

Your doctor also listens to the sounds your heart makes during auscultation. Any strange noises could mean you have a heart murmur. Additional sounds might suggest a galloping rhythm, which can indicate heart disease. If your physician hears "clicks," it might suggest problems with your heart valve. "Rubbing sounds" could be the result of an infection (via Healthline). If your doctor does hear something unusual, they will generally ask you if you have experienced any other symptoms that could help determine if you need further testing.