Crackling in Lungs

Lung soundsCrackling in lungs can be described as a characteristic sound inside the airway which is being produced during the air transit, and it is not physiological manifestations. This means that something is happening inside the upper or lower part of the respiratory system. Usually, it is not audible with human air, but by stethoscope which doctors use. This is an instrument with a special conducting mechanism which translates quiet breathing sounds into a human hearing sound. Crackling in a significant amount of cases reflects the sound of the air coming through the fluid buildup inside the lungs, which can occur in some conditions like pneumonia or other. Some of this conditions are serious, life-threatening ones, and they need to be examined and treated, so diagnostic measurements are highly important.

4 Types Of Breathing Sounds In Abnormal Lungs

Depending on the cause of the abnormality, the sound can be low or high frequency, it can be in the start of the breathing or early inspiratory sounds or late expiratory sounds. Other than frequency and the time of the sound appearing, it is also important if that sound is mono or polyphonic. There are a few types of sounds that a doctor can auscultate in a patient:

  1. Rales

Rales stands for “rattle” in French. This type of sound is small, short, rattling sound which has a clicking manner. It is dry and course, and it occurs mostly in the start of the breathing cycle when the areas of the lungs that don’t have the air open and are being filled up with air.  This inspiratory sound sounds like cellophane being crumpled or a velcro pulling apart.

  1. Rhonchi

Rhonchi are more like snoring sound, which is low in pitch and it is low-frequency wheezing sound. They can be heard in both expiratory and inspiratory phase and they usually clear after coughing. They are heard in upper parts of the lungs, in the area of bronchi, not alveoli. They are caused by airway obstruction and secretion, which narrows down the respiratory canal and causes this kind of phenomena.

  1. Wheezing

Wheezing has a musical quality to it and it can be both low and high-frequency sound. High-frequency wheezing is similar to squeaking, whereas the low-frequency wheezing sounds like snoring or moaning. It is usually heard in the expiratory phase of the breathing cycle and it can be the monophonic or polyphonic type. It is caused by airway obstruction and depending on the obstruction, it can be heavier or lighter in quality.

  1. Stridor

Stridor is a high-pitched sound and it is caused by narrowing the airway in the larynx section or throat. Stridor in Latin means “creaking or grating noise”. It is mostly heard in inspiration, but in patients who are in a worse state, it can spread through the whole respiratory cycle. Because it is a sign of the upper part of the respiratory track, it can happen in some aspirations, pertussis, epiglottitis or croup.

Depending On The Cause, The Treatment Can Vary

Although there are a lot of lung diseases and conditions, we will try to cover some of the most common and typical ones.


Pneumonia is a condition of a lung infection, where it can be due to viruses and bacteria, or other not so often fungi and parasites pathogens. The inflammation of the lung tissue can cause a lot of symptoms like fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, weakness, chest pain combined with a burning sensation. When a doctor auscultates, there can be a crackling sound. Therapy for pneumonia depends on the cause of the infection, and it can be antibiotics, antiviral meds, hydration, mucolytics, antipyretics and other drugs according to symptomatology. Sometimes it is required to be hospitalized.


Asthma has triple characteristic events that happen, which are chronical inflammation, bronchoconstriction, and mucus secretion. This narrows down the airway, causing the obstruction of the path. Here a wheezing is the most frequent sound. It can vary from a mild to more severe form of a disease which goes from dyspnea and heavy breathing to asthma attack or status asthmaticus. Therapy for asthma consists of bronchodilators, corticosteroids, anticholinergics, oxygen, and methylxanthines.

Pulmonary Edema

Edema inside the lungs can occur in a   heart failure if a heart can’t pump the excess volume of the blood, leading to vessel leak inside the lungs. Left heart failure can lead to this result. It builds up the fluid and results in the reduced respiratory surface. Therapy for edema is the limit of the salt and diet control. Other treatments can be diuretics, oxygen, and in some cases, breathing tube.


This happens when the airway is blocked on some level with a foreign object. The blockage obstructs the airway and can lead to atelectasis (collapsing of the lung). This can be life threatening if it follows up with slow reaction and treatment. It can result in chest rattle on exhale phase. It is extremely important to recognize the first symptoms to resolve the problem. Therapy for blockage is the removal of the foreign object through bronchoscopy. This is where the doctor inserts the tube inside your throat and examines the path for foreign objects. If gets complicated, it can require an operation.


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