Any sounds during breathing, sound of popping or wheezing are known as crackling in lungs. This sound cannot be heard by a person suffering rather it can be heard only by a stethoscope of a doctor. The sound is very low, soft, brief and occurs when the airway opens up suddenly and resulting in crackling sound when the air escapes. Such sounds even occur due to some serious disease like pneumonia, acute bronchitis, metastasis ablation, interstitial lung disease, post thoracotomy and the treatment completely depends upon the underlying disease. These can be both unilateral and bilateral.
Types of Crackling in Lungs
There are various types of crackling in the lungs. These varieties are usually recognized by a doctor during the check up. Each and every type has a different meaning and treatment. The following are the different types of crackling in lungs that one can hear if heard carefully–
Wheezes are high pitched sounds, continuous, whistling and coarse that usually comes from the airway during breathing. This sound can be heard when the air struggles to come out. In certain cases these sounds are so loud that it can be heard without stethoscope. Persons suffering from lung disease and asthma attacks usually suffer from wheezing and might be a symptom of lung cancer. Wheezes are heard both at the end of expiratory and inspiratory phases collapsing a part of lungs.
Rales are a similar to bubbling sound or rattling sounds. These are fine and dry sound, usually light and without any moist sounds during breathing.
Stridors are similar to wheezes. Stridors are caused by problems in the trachea, epiglottis or larynx whereas in case of wheezes the main reason is blocked airways. It is a high pitched, harsh, vibrating sound heard in the respiratory tract.
These are a type of snoring or coarse rattling sound and can range from low intensity ones to high intensity caused by secretion in bronchial airways. Rhonchi or rhonchus occur when the breath does not flow in and out of the lungs due to some blockage.
Watch out for this video to know about different crackling sounds of lungs.
Causes and Treatments of Crackling in Lungs
As seen earlier there are various types of crackling sounds in lungs. Along with the various types these are even caused due to a number of reasons. Only a doctor can tell you the main reason for crackling in the lungs and how to treat it. Below are mentioned the most common causes of this sound –
Pneumonia is an infection of lungs which causes inflammation. There are several reasons of lungs infection such as bacteria, fungi, virus, parasites and bacteria. The symptoms of this type of crackling in lungs mainly depends upon the underlying disease but some general symptoms are fever, coughing, shortness in breathing, pain in the chest, muscle pain, headache and the most important crackling sound when you breathe.
Treatment of pneumonia completely depends upon the reason because of which it occurs or the underlying reason. Antibiotics might work well for you in this case. Pneumonia being a serious disease might even require you to stay in the hospital. Stay in the hospital generally incurred to remove the mucus and the fluids and along with it to supplement oxygen during breathing.
- Pulmonary Edema
Pulmonary edema is filling of fluids in the air sacs causing left sided congestive heart failure. These air sacks line the lungs and make breathing difficult leading to crackling in the lungs. This is an emergency condition and usually requires medical help. Signs and symptoms that include gurgling, wheezing sounds during breathing, fatigue, feeling of suffocation, shortness of breath and coughing up blood. For treatment you can go for supplemental oxygen to breath and medications to treat the underlying causes. Diuretics can also be used to help drain fluid and medications to strengthen the heart muscle and to make it work easily.
Bronchitis is the situation in which the bronchial tube gets inflamed. Acute bronchitis usually occurs after cold. This usually resolves in few days. Medical intervention is usually required in case of chronic bronchitis because it does not resolve easily. Signs and symptoms of bronchitis include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest discomfort, coughing, chills, fatigue and slight fever. Chronic bronchitis is a very serious and long term medical condition. Usually an antibiotic does not work in case of viruses. The best treatment in this case is rest and consumption of plenty of fluids. Even airways often get blocked during bronchitis which can be opened up using medications. Avoid smoking if you are facing this problem.
In this disease a part of the lung collapses and then drawing air into the lung becomes difficult. Atelectasis also causes crackling in lungs and this usually happen after some trauma like car accident or because of some disease. Common symptoms in this case include sudden difficulty in breathing and chest pain. This is a disease which requires medical emergency. The treatment basically includes removing blockages in the airway and opening up the lungs. This might even include surgical intervention in some cases.
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Growing of fibrous tissue in the lungs is known as pulmonary fibrosis. The main reason for this disease is inhalation of pollutants. Pollution is increasing day by day and so is this disease. When you suffer from this disease crackling in lungs will be heard by your doctor using stethoscope. The common symptoms of this disease include fatigue, discomfort in the chest and shortness of breath. Few ways in which this disease can be cured are steroids, medications and natural amino acids. Even oxygen therapy can work great in this case. Often doctors recommend physical exercising and breathing support to cure this disease. Surgeries are considered to be the last resort in this case. If you feel any difficulty in breathing then this might be an emergency situation and you must call up your doctor immediately.