Crackling Sound While Breathing

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Are 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

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

#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)

 

#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.

89 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been coughing up phlegm alot. Been to er because I couldn’t breathe, they called it asthma. I had asthma since 12 years old, I’m 29 now. I know it wasn’t asthma so I went back in and theye diagnosed me with bronchitis and more medicine. I’m a truck driver so my medication has to be something I can drive with. Those 2 times I went to hospital was away from home. The 3rd time was when I was home and the doc said it was pneumonia. I can’t stop coughing and have a very sharp and very painful pain shooting on my right side of my chest. Could I have cracked a rib with all my excessive coughing?

    • The pain may be because of the muscle strain from coughing. You have muscles that can become fatigued when you are coughing so much, so it could just be from that. There are also conditions that can cause this type of pain though, so it may be a good idea to go to your doctor, tell him what is going on and get checked out again.

  2. I was diagnosed with bronchitis about 3 weeks ago. The ER put me on the ZPack and medrol pack. I seemed fine besides a cough that was still present. I went to my doctor for a F/U and she put me in an inhaler called Qvar and Singular. Every since I’ve been short of breath, producing mucus when I cough, and rattling in my chest. I went back to her she put me on another round of antibiotics with is Bactrim and Tessalon that is a coughing pill. Needless to say I feel worst than what I did when I first was diagnosed with bronchitis. Went back to the ER on Friday performed another chest X-ray which was clear. They gave me steroids thru an IV and hydrocodone cough syrup I was ok until I started back taking the Bactrim. I really start to think that Bactrim is causing me to wheeze, be short of breath, and the rattling in my chest. Any suggestions on what i should do?

    • Share your concerns with your medical professional. They may have another option for you to take. Do not stop taking the medication without speak with your doctor. Perhaps try to speak with another doctor for a second opinion. Best of luck, Linda!

    • I reccomend going back to the doctor and request retests. I am only 21 and having very similar problems, I can’t breath without growling, I had tests done and they refused me anything as my xrays were clear. If you are genuinely worried ask for a second xray and second opinion, NHS is doing anything to save money including depriving us of the medication we need

      • Thank you for sharing your experiences. Medical care can be troublesome at times. If possible, try to speak with a medical professional that is willing to work with you. Best of luck, Jen!

  3. My brother just died with lung cancer and was a heavy smoker. I am not a smoker but I have noticed a crackle sound when I lay down to sleep. I have shortness of breath that comes and goes. When I have the shortness of breath I will cough, sometimes with a little muscular and sometimes none. No fever, chill, aches. In the mornings when I get up I have some mucus. I do a lot if sneezing on some days too. I worry about lung cancer since my brother had it. No other family member has had any cancer.

    • It could be from a cold or you may have some lung disorder. It is also possible that you have allergies–allergies can develop later in life as well as childhood, and this could be the reason why you have more mucus and sneezing than normal. Since you don’t really have a family history of cancer, I would not panic and assume that you have lung cancer quite yet. It would be a good idea for you to go to your doctor though to make sure that you don’t have an infection or allergies that are causing your symptoms. Good luck and stay safe, Vel!

  4. I am currently on a road trip. The first couple hours of driving, I had a sore throat; it gave me a hoarse voice. I dismissed it, thinking it was strep and it’s probably viral (I am aware it is horrendously contagious) because I also had headaches. Then, I started coughing. Lots of coughing, and when I breathed out of my nose, my nose hurt. So then, I breathed out of my mouth. The wheezing/cracklings sound began. I am not a smoker, and I will not drink alcohol. They both don’t have good outcomes, so why do it? Anyways, I got my period, too. Is that involved? What do you think I might have? I’m on a road trip with my three brothers and my dad. They’re all younger than me, except for my dad. If I do have anything, will I spread it to them? I always cough in my elbow, no matter what. I also have a runny nose. Do you think I actually have pneumonia? I don’t have the blood for asthma and I didn’t have it when I was younger. I’ve had pneumonia about four months ago, starting December 12th. Should I be walking around? I have a shortage of breath, and by walking only 5 minutes, I want to cry. I am normally a good runner and I’m athletic–I can run a mile in 5 minutes. I experienced only a hoarse voice and lots of coughing when I had pneumonia. Currently, I’m taking cough drops and Daytime pills. The cough drops barely help, and the Daytime pills are only temporary. We’re in South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore!) currently, and I’m using hotel wifi. Could it be the hotels? Should I be more cautious? I keep contact with my mom, and she told me to get ibuprofen and to check for swollen lymph nodes. She also told me to get it checked out at a Target or something. I don’t know. We’re heading back home later today. Do I have pneumonia again? Lung cancer (pray to the lords no) or Bronchitis? Sorry for the late reply.

    • It could be just an infection of some sort. You could have pneumonia again or it could be another type of infection. If you can go to a walk-in clinic, you will be able to get checked out pretty quickly. It is highly unlikely that this is lung cancer, so relax. The air conditioning in the car could also be aggravating your symptoms by drying out your sinuses, so drink plenty of water during your road trip.

      • Depending on where she is, that could be a possibility. The areas she mentioned are not particularly high up though, so that is probably not the cause.

  5. Its been about an hour since I’ve had this cracking. I had a fever for a few days, and today i woke up coughing a lot, and my throat started crackling. It’s been kind of on and off. It occasionally stopped, then started, then stopped, started, and so on. It also only happens when i breathe through my mouth. I still have a bit of a headache, but my chest isnt in terrible pain. Should i be worried? Is this something i can cure on my own?

    • You most likely have some type of bacterial or viral infection. While a viral infection cannot be treated with antibiotics, a bacterial infection can be. There are many potential reasons why you could be having these symptoms, so it is important to go to your doctor to get diagnosed. You may just need bed rest and plenty of fluids to recover, but it is important that you are tested to find the exact cause of your illness before you assume anything.

  6. My heart skip beats now for the paat few days i haven’t been sleeping when i lay down its hard for me to breath im waking tryng to catch my breath ive notice the crackling sound in my chest im scared its like sonething at the top of my stomach making it very difficult for me to breath@ gain im scared

    • If you feel like there is something on your stomach and it is hard to breath when you are asleep, then you could be describing sleep paralysis. If these symptoms continue all night and day though, then you may have an infection or another problem. The best way to find out for sure is to go to the doctor and get checked out. You do not want to take any chances with breathing-related problems, so it is important that you go to your doctor to be checked out.

  7. I have had a crackling sound for a number of weeks now. Only notice it at night when it’s quiet. I haven’t had a cold, nor have I got a cough or mucus or feel unwell, should I visit my GP?

    • You may want to speak with your doctor. Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having. This will help you better answer your doctor’s questions. There is nothing wrong with going in or a general check up. Have a great day, Cheryl!

  8. So my problem started like 8 months ago, I had some pneumonic feeling with a cough, and I was given drugs for the cough, 2 months down the line i started having a little struggles when breathing especially when inhaling, I went to the hospital and told the doctor I coughed out blood that was once cause I didn’t have an active cough and still having trouble when breathing, so he told me to test for t.b which i did and came out negative, was put on antibiotics, but again like 1 month down the line it became a lil bit worse, started wheezing and shortness in breath but no cough or chest pain, so I went to the doctor again and he ordered I get tested for t.be again that was after getting my chest x-ray, but could cause I couldn’t produce any sputum! So he put me on pneumonia medication, I felt better for some time, it’s been like 2 months now and my problem is back! Any help? I’ve smoked quite a number of times(mostly shisha) but am not a smoker!! Abused alchol a coUpleatham times too..

    • You want to stop using any drugs or alcohol at this time. This may be a cause for your experiences. Speak with the doctor again and gather additional information about your concerns. You may want to speak with another doctor for a second opinion. They may be able to give you additional help. You may also want to change your diet in a healthy manner. Best of luck, Ripper!

  9. I have had the crackling and popping sound in my chest for almost 5 months accompanied with coughing up yellow mucous and lots of blowing out clear and yellow mucous from my nose. I also notice pimples accumulating on and around my nose alot.I haven’t been to my PCP yet, because I was talking Mucinex which loosened up the chest mucous for about two weeks. Now its back, should I be alarmed?

    • If you find that medications help your respiration, the use them. However, if you find that your body seems to require them to function properly, then you may want to speak with a medical professional. They will be able to determine the cause of your problems. They may be able to give you medication or advice. Best of luck, Gabby!

    • Stay off Dairy products.
      Find alternatives, like Almond milk, Oat milk etc.,
      Dairy products make mucus abd blocks the Sinuses etc

      • That sounds like a good place to start, although she should also go to her doctor to be checked out for sure. Thanks for commenting, Maggie!

  10. I’m a 16 year old girl and I have many health problems. Arthritis, TMJ, depression, tension headaches, and then there’s the unexplained crackling when I inhale. I have no cough, fever, or phlegm. Is there anyway my other health problems causes it? Its only been going on for 5 months. Also I was wondering if poor posture could be a factor in the crackling.

    • Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having. Posture may have an effect on your breathing. You will find that you will gain energy if you practice proper posture techniques. You may want to make an appointment with a doctor to gather information about your breathing. There is no reason to put your health at risk. Best of luck, Julia!

  11. I’ve noticed a quiet crackling maybe a few months to a few weeks ago. Could it be possible that it’s from being pregnant? Never had it before, only during this pregnancy and I am 41 weeks and 1 day today. I have had heartburn once and been sick to my stomach twice during this pregnancy, not sure if I’ve developed acid reflux. But it comes and goes and it’s not loud nor does it bother me. It Only occurs when I lay down at night and it’s not every night. Baby is taking up my lungs making it hard for me to breath, but just want some suggestions or if it could be from being pregnant.

    • It could be from an illness–winter is a normal time to get a cold or develop congestion in the lungs. If your symptoms change, go to the doctor. Otherwise, you can wait for your next prenatal exam to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

    • When your pregnant you often develop acid reflux.
      Reflux when you ought sleep can go up your throat and cause the burn, but it can also cause the wheezing.. As you might have inhaled some of the acid.
      I get this myself as a man, do to acid reflux

      • Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. It is certain that your words will help someone in the future. If you have any advice on how to prevent acid reflux, then please share your treatments with our community. Have a great day, Crambone!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

    • Ive had a rattling in my chest for almost 3 weeks now. Im coughing up phlegm alot and no fever, no chills, no body aches. The rattling seems to be coming from the middle of my chest. What is this and why wont it go away

      • You may have reason to speak with a medical professional. This is likely due to an excess of phlegm and mucus. Your doctor may be able to diagnose your condition and give you the proper treatment. Best of luck, Bookie!

    • HI, Bookie, I have the same problem since 1/17/2017, I’m coughing up clear phlegm a little and no fever, no chills, few aches and burning sensation every now them, rattling in my deep in my chest and throat I am on the second dose of antibiotic but it seem not want to leave me alone I am so worried it might be something else?

      • Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having. You may want to speak with your doctor again if the antibiotics are not working. Your best option at this time is to rest and reduce stress in your life. Best of luck, Abbie!

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

    Thanks,

    Gail

    • 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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?

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