ANSWERS and RATIONALE for NCLEX Questions about Airway – Obstruction and Asthma

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1. ANSWER A. Fever, chills, hemoptysis, dyspnea, cough, and pleuric chest pain are the common symptoms of pneumonia, but elderly clients may first appear with only an altered mental status and dehydration due to a blunted immune response.
2. ANSWER D. The most common feature of all types of pneumonia is an inflammatory pulmonary response to the offending organism or agent. Atelectasis and brochiectasis indicate a collapse of a portion of the airway that doesn’t occur with pneumonia. An effusion is an accumulation of excess pleural fluid in the pleural space, which may be a secondary response to pneumonia.
3. ANSWER A. Based on the client’s history and symptoms, acute asthma is the most likely diagnosis. He’s unlikely to have bronchial pneumonia without a productive cough and fever and he’s too young to have developed COPD or emphysema.
4. ANSWER C. Inspiratory and expiratory wheezes are typical findings in asthma. Circumoral cyanosis may be present in extreme cases of respiratory distress. The nurse would expect the client to have a decreased forced expiratory volume because asthma is an obstructive pulmonary disease. Breath sounds will be “tight” sounding or markedly decreased; they won’t be normal.
5. ANSWER C. Intrinsic asthma doesn’t have an easily identifiable allergen and can be triggered by the common cold. Asthma caused be emotional reasons is considered to be in the extrinsic category. Extrinsic asthma is caused by dust, molds, and pets; easily identifiable allergens. Mediated asthma doesn’t exist.
6. ANSWER B. Bronchodilators are the first line of treatment for asthma because bronchoconstriction is the cause of reduced airflow. Beta-adrenergic blockers aren’t used to treat asthma and can cause bronchoconstriction. Inhaled or oral steroids may be given to reduce the inflammation but aren’t used for emergency relief.
7. ANSWER B. The client is having an acute asthma attack and needs to increase oxygen delivery to the lung and body. Nebulized bronchodilators open airways and increase the amount of oxygen delivered. First resolve the acute phase of the attack ad how to prevent attacks in the future. It may not be necessary to place the client on a cardiac monitor because he’s only 19-years-old, unless he has a past medical history of cardiac problems.
8. ANSWER C. Because of his extensive smoking history and symptoms, the client most likely has chronic obstructive bronchitis. Clients with ARDS have acute symptoms of and typically need large amounts of oxygen. Clients with asthma and emphysema tend not to have a chronic cough or peripheral edema.
9. ANSWER C. Clients with chronic obstructive bronchitis appear bloated; they have large barrel chests and peripheral edema, cyanotic nail beds and, at times, circumoral cyanosis. Clients with ARDS are acutely short of breath and frequently need intubation for mechanical ventilation and large amounts of oxygen. Clients with asthma don’t exhibit characteristics of chronic disease, and clients with emphysema appear pink and cachectic (a state of ill health, malnutrition, and wasting).
10. ANSWER D. Because of the large amount of energy it takes to breathe, clients with emphysema are usually cachectic. They’re pink and usually breathe through pursed lips, hence the term “puffer”. Clients with ARDS are usually acutely short of breath. Clients with asthma don’t have any particular characteristics, and clients with chronic obstructive bronchitis are bloated and cyanotic in appearance.
11. ANSWER D. These are classic signs and symptoms of a client with emphysema. Clients with ARDS are acutely short of breath and require emergency care; those with asthma are also acutely short of breath during an attack and appear very frightened. Clients with chronic obstructive bronchitis are bloated and cyanotic in appearance.
12. ANSWER D. It’s highly recommended that clients with respiratory disorders be given vaccines to protect against respiratory infection. Infections can cause these clients to need intubation and mechanical ventilation, and it may be difficult to wean these clients from the ventilator. The vaccines have no effect on bronchodilation or respiratory care.
13. ANSWER A. Exercise can improve cardiovascular fitness and help the client tolerate periods of hypoxia better, perhaps reducing the risk of heart attack. Most exercise has little effect on respiratory muscle strength, and these clients can’t tolerate the type of exercise necessary to do this. Exercise won’t reduce the number of acute attacks. In some instances, exercise may be contraindicated, and the client should check with his physician before starting any exercise program.
14. ANSWER A. Reducing fluid volume reduces the workload of the heart, which reduces oxygen demand and, in turn, reduces the respiratory rate. It may also reduce edema and improve mobility a little, but exercise tolerance will still be harder to clear airways. Reducing fluid volume won’t improve respiratory function, but may improve oxygenation.
15. ANSWER D. In emphysema, the wall integrity of the individual air sacs is damaged, reducing the surface area available for gas exchange. Very little air movement occurs in the lungs because of bronchiole collapse, as well. In ARDS, the client’s condition is more acute and typically requires mechanical ventilation. In asthma and bronchitis, wheezing is prevalent.
16. ANSWER C. Clients with emphysema breathe when their oxygen levels drop to a certain level; this is known as the hypoxic drive. They don’t take a breath when their levels of carbon dioxide are higher than normal, as do those with healthy respiratory physiology. If too much oxygen is given, the client has little stimulus to take another breath. In the meantime, his carbon dioxide levels continue to climb, and the client will pass out, leading to a respiratory arrest.
17.ANSWER D. Respiratory infection in clients with a respiratory disorder can be fatal. It’s important that the client understands how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an impending respiratory infection. It isn’t appropriate for the wife to listen to his lung sounds, besides, you can’t purchase stethoscopes from Wal-Mart. If the client has signs and symptoms of an infection, he should contact his physician at once.
18.ANSWER A. Atelectasis develops when there’s interference with the normal negative pressure that promotes lung expansion. Clients in the postoperative phase often splint their breathing because of pain and positioning, which causes hypoxia. It’s uncommon for any of the other respiratory disorders to develop.
19. ANSWER D. Using an incentive spirometer requires the client to take deep breaths and promotes lung expansion. Chest physiotherapy helps mobilize secretions but won’t prevent atelectasis. Reducing oxygen requirements or placing someone on mechanical ventilation doesn’t affect the development of atelectasis.
20. ANSWER A. Inhaled beta-adrenergic agents help promote bronchodilation, which improves oxygenation. I.V. beta-adrenergic agents can be used but have to be monitored because of their greater systemic effects. They’re typically used when the inhaled beta-adrenergic agents don’t work. Corticosteriods are slow-acting, so their use won’t reduce hypoxia in the acute phase.

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