Crackling Sound While Breathing


86491543Are your lungs making a crackling sound by breathing? If you notice a wheezing or crackling sound when you exhale and inhale as you breathe- it may be worrisome. However, sometimes there are just normal sounds the lungs make when there is an excess of mucus or not serious conditions that cause it. Even if you think it is just normal, there are certain other symptoms that can give you a better idea of whether or not the cracking sound while breathing is a sign of something more serious.


Crackling Sound While Breathing: The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Any conditions, chronic or temporary can cause a rattle or crackling sound while breathing. However, the symptoms qualify in so many circumstances to all more serious issues- that it is of key importance that you understand both, each- the good and the bad that can be associated with crackling sounds while breathing.

#1 Cause of crackling while you breathe: Pneumonia

Pneumonia is nothing to play with! It can be contracted by a virus and bacterial matter, Both are serious conditions that are associated with a high fatality rate. However, once you hear a crackling in your lungs, or are coughing up green, bloody, yellow, or discolored phlegm from your lungs, you should consult with a doctor immediately.

Especially, when the crackle sound is associated with the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • No cough present-ot a present cough vanishes
  • Cough of blood, Phlegm of green, black,  grey, brown, yellow color
  • Excessive coughing
  • Problems breathing
  • Pain when exhaling and inhaling
  • Headache
  • Bone shaking chills
  • Chest pain (localized or referred)
  • Body aches, pain, muscle pain, joint pain
  • Excessive sweating


Treatments of pneumonia, depend upon the severity of the medical condition. Your doctor can determine whether or not you have viral or bacterial pneumonia by taking a few xrays along with blood tests. The treatment for pneumonia depends on the severity and the cause itself.

Pneumonia can be fatal is left untreated. The best thing you can do is notice the signs symptoms and get immediate help upon the recognition of the major signs and symptoms. In the case of pneumonia the sooner the better that you seek medical attention.

#2 Cause of Crackling Sound While You Breathe: Asthma

Asthma is an illness that happens for many reasons. It is usually chronic and sometimes can prove fatal when left un-diagnosed and unprepared for (inhalers.) Asthma occurs when there is an excess production of mucus, when the bronchi in the lungs swell and constrict the airway.

Symptoms That Present

  • Heavy, tight feeling in chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing when inhaling or exhaling
  • Crackling sound while breathing
  • Coughing
  • Purple/Blue lips from lack of oxygen in major attacks

Treatment for Asthma

It is important that you know that asthma cannot be cured. However, it can be controlled by medication, and other protocols including:

  • Using Allergy efficient filters and air cleaners in the home
  • Watch asthma in cold weather, cover your mouth
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Find out the triggers of your asthma and avoid them
  • Always have your emergency inhaler on hand

#3 Cause of crackling while you breathe: Bronchitis

Bronchitis is where the bronchial tubes in your lungs become irritated and inflamed. There are two types of bronchitis: acute or chronic. You can get acute bronchitis when you have an underlying infection causing it. This results in wheezing and often a crackling sound while breathing. Chronic bronchitis is something that is persistent and commonly is most associated with smoking cigarettes.

Symptoms that Present:

  • Wheezing or crackling sounds
  • Heavy feeling or sensation in chest
  • Hoarse voice or laryngitis
  • Sometimes fever, malaise, and headache
  • Sharp or dull chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment For Bronchitis

Bronchitis can be treated by several methods including:

  • Steroids to reduce the inflammation
  • Antibiotics to treat any underlying infections
  • Recommendation for cessation smoking aids
  • Pulmonary therapy (Respiratory therapy)
  • Breathing treatments (medication variable)
  • Use of a humidifier
  • Rest and drinking plenty of fluids
  • Inhaler or allergy medications

#4 Cause of crackling while you breathe: Pulmonary Edema

Fluid build-up in the air sac’s of your lungs can cause the condition known as Pulmonary Edema. Pulmonary edema is brought about by such root causes such as infection, medication, heart failure, and more.

Symptoms that Present 

  • Crackling sound while breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Disorientation, confusion, anxiety
  • Pale skin

Treatment For Pulmonary Edema

  • Medication
  • Hospitalization
  • Possible Chest Tube Insertion
  • Low Salt Diet
  • Blood Pressure Control

breathing-2#5 Cause of cracking while you breathe: Emphysema

Emphysema is condition that is destructive to the air sacs in the lungs. It can cause a crackling sound in the lungs while you breathe. One of the major causes of this very bad disease, is the use of cigarettes. Emphysema also results in one not getting enough oxygen.

  • Problems with breathing
  • Blue/purple lips
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing or crackling, popping sounds while breathing

Treatment For Emphysema

The damage caused by Emphysema is irreparable. As it worsens symptoms also get more severe. Some treatments that help slow down the damage this disease causes and to alleviate the symptoms that are uncomfortable are:

  • Cessation of smoking
  • Avoid exposure to cleaners, scents, perfumes, and other air pollutants
  • Steroids either orally or distributed through breathing apparatus
  • Inhalers that aid in opening the airways
  • Antibiotics to prevent infections or to cure them
  • Pulmonary rehab
  • Permanent oxygen administration (supplementation)

breathing-1#6 Cause of cracking while you breathe: Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is originated in the lungs. One of the main risks that cause this type of cancer is smoking. However, you could be a non-smoker and still contract it. Cancer cells (tumors) can grow and expand in the lungs which cause many symptoms including that of crackling sound while breathing.

Symptoms that Present:

  • General unwell feeling
  • Hard time breathing
  • Cough that will not go away
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood

Sometimes there are no signs that present when a person has lung cancer and by the time the symptoms do show up and are noticeable the cancer has already increased in stage or severity. There are many treatments for lung cancer including:

  • Surgery to remove the cancerous part of the lung
  • Chemotherapy/Radiation
  • Recommendation to Quit Smoking
  • Other medications
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Breathing treatments

Crackling Sound While Breathing: Conclusion

A crackling sound while breathing should be checked out if it is occurring or has occurred more than a few days. If it comes and goes and there is no fever, cough, too much pain or other more sever symptoms associated with it- it could be just something minor that can be treated with avoidance of smoking, rest, antibiotics or inhalers. However, for more severe cases of crackling sound while breathing the physician may have to perform more tests to determine if it could be a condition such as pulmonary edema, lung cancer, and more.


  1. You have a typo in your text. You spell that as thar in one case. Just thought you’d want to know. This is on the article about crackling when you breathe.

  2. Since December 13th I have been on two rounds of antibiotics 4 bronchitis. I am still coughing up a lot of green mucus chunks with a raspy voice and crackling sounds as I exhale which appears to be coming from my nasal area. I am totally exhausted but do not have any fever. I have been given two packages of the Medrol dose pack also.

    I am concerned that something has been overlooked because this seems to be lingering for way too long. What are your thoughts?

    • It can sometimes take a while to heal when you become ill. This is especially true if your body hasn’t really had enough time to rest and heal completely. If your body has been overexerted for a while, the recovery process can take a long time. Unfortunately, many adults cannot afford to take the time off from work that they need to get better, so it can make it much harder to get over a cold or bronchitis. If you have any worrisome symptoms, you can always go back to your doctor to be on the safe side, but it seems like your body may just need more rest to get back to full health.

  3. Many thanks for the information. I thought my crackle was bronchitis and my doc said it should go but reading about gastritis, i realise the crackle is only present when I lie down + I get mucus. Only now so I realise it is caused by acid from my hiatus hernia. Apart from medicaton, raising the upper part of the bed works.

    • Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. It is great that you spoke to a medical professional. It is certain that you will help someone in the future. Feel free to share more of your thoughts in the future. Have a great day, Richard!

  4. Hello,
    Crackling sound when breathing,
    excessive yellow phlegm with coughing,I am diagnosed with copd. This has been going on when I first saw my current pulmonary doctor. I have only seen in once in a year. I have to change doctors due to unreturned calls. I found a new Dr. they are booked until April.



    • If it is possible for you to speak with a doctor at a walk in clinic, then they would serve you well. They are often inexpensive and reputable. Your experiences are likely influenced by your copd, so continue to act in the manner prescribed y your previous doctor. Try to make an appointment with a different doctor who can speak to you before April. Good luck, Gail!

  5. I’ve had crackling noises when breathing for a few years now. My doctor said it was caused by acid reflux and prescribed a course of gastro-resistant tablets which cleared it up. However it’s back again. It’s not wheezing – I have asthma and know the symptoms of that. There’s no ill affects other than the noise itself, but I have noticed phlegm or mucus in the throat and have to clear it constantly. When I saw my doctor , I explained about this but he insisted it was down to acid reflux and not mucus , hence the tablets he prescribed.

    • Are the tablets not working anymore or did you run out? If they are not working anymore, go back to your doctor and tell him that again. If you just ran out of the prescription, try the tablets again before returning to your doctor. If the tablets are not working, then there could be something else causing the problem.

    • Your symptoms sound very similar to mine. I had a cough that went on for the best part of a year (non smoker) I was given omeprazole for silent acid reflux…ie I had no idea I had reflux at all, just constantly swallowing mucous up and down.GP explained my body is making excess mucous to protect the inside from the corrosive acid. I was sceptical as I couldn’t feel any acid symptoms but after taking a while the symptoms did improve. Unless the cause goes away (in my case losing weight) you will need to take them daily. The problem deteriorated and I had to have a two month whirl of steroid inhaler and double the dose of omeprazole to get back under control. I am currently crackling again, which is no problem other than it bugs me hearing it, and I will probably return to the steroid inhaler to sooth things again. I have been in a dusty environment recently ( removing a fireplace) and I don’t seem to have much tolerance for any irritant since having this long term problem. In summary if the problem is resolved by taking your tablets, you may well have to keep them up until cause removed. ..typically weight or hernia related

      • Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. It is certain that your words will help our readers in the future. Please feel free to share more of your thoughts in the future. Have a great day, Sarah!

  6. I’ve always had mitral valve prolapse with mild regurgitation and good blood pressure, until about 7 months ago when I went to the cardiologist for a check-up. My blood pressure was alarmingly high and my regurgitation had become moderate, I had a cough I couldn’t get rid of, and some swelling in my lower legs and ankles. For the next three months my medications were increased until my blood pressure was brought back to normal, but in the meantime I developed a tightness at the base of my throat and a (rice crispy) crackling in my chest when I would lay down. A ZPack and a steroid shot helped clear the crackling, but My family doctor was concerned about heart failure and requested a chest xray that showed scarring from what could have been a previous undiagnosed bout of pneumonia. This xray was repeated twice over the next two months, the second one showing the scarring improved but there was some atrial enlargement. The third one finally clear. My cardiologist was not interested in this what so ever, he saw no connection between my lung issues and my heart to be concerned about. Then a month ago the crackling returned with a strained voice and hoarseness, and it became harder to breathe. I went to an after hours clinic and their xray showed bilateral pneumonia. I was put on antibiotics and given a rescue inhaler and went to my family doctor the next day. He verified the pneumonia but was puzzled by my lack of a productive cough and fever. I took two weeks of antibiotics and improved greatly after a week, but then a week after my antibiotics were finished (3 weeks after pneumonia diagnosis) crackling and shortness of breath returned, the hoarseness never fully clear up. This time I went to a pulmonologist who was concerned that this all may be pulmonary hypertension, so he ordered blood work, xray, CT scan, and PFT. The results were a clear chest xray, a small non calcified nodule in one lung, bilateral bands of atelectasis, a slightly enlarged pulmonary artery, and my brain peptides were at 244. PFT results not available yet. I heard from pulmonologist today about these results and he said there was nothing alarming. He would see me in one month and redo the CT scan in one year. My question is should I be satisfied with this response? What questions should I ask, or should I push for more even seeking a second opinion from both another pulmonologist or cardiologist?

    • It sounds like your medical team is doing everything that they can to figure out the problem. Cardiovascular issues can cause breathing problems, so that could be the source of your issues. I would see what the results are and see what happens if you are continuing to have pneumonia. I’m curious though–have you ever been tested for COPD?