Making a crackling sound while breathing (inhaling and exhaling), can at times be an unsettling and alarming experience. More so since most people describe it as being the “death rattle”. This cracking sound can be a sign of different conditions, and not all of them are serious or life threatening.
Causative conditions vary from asthma to lung cancer; treatments vary according to the causes. Knowing about different causes can help with early intervention. It’s very important for you check the symptoms in each condition so that you know what you are suffering from.
Causes and Treatments of Crackling Sound While Breathing
This is a condition characterized by air sac inflammation in both or one lung. Pneumonia can sometimes be fatal, especially if it goes untreated. It is, therefore, very important that you see a doctor for medical attention the minute you hear the crackling sound when breathing. Other symptoms of pneumonia include coughing, fever; shortness of breath, headache, chest pain, muscle pain, perspiration and fatigue.
Other than the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor when you have been diagnosed with pneumonia, you also need to get a lot of rest. This means taking bed rest until you have fully recovered. You should also drink a lot of fluids, especially water so that your lung mucus can be loosened. Never skip a dosage of the prescribed medication because if you stop too early, bacteria may continue accumulating in your lungs and also multiply thus causing recurring pneumonia.
This condition occurs when your airways swell, narrow and produce excess mucus. As a result, breathing is made difficult which triggers wheezing, crackling sound when breathing, coughing and shortness of breath. For some, asthma can be a minor irritant, but for others it is a big problem that hinders them from performing their daily activities in peace, which may lead to life-threatening asthma attacks.
Even though asthma has no cure, there are ways to control the symptoms.
You should keep away from asthma triggers. You should decontaminate the décor in your home regularly by using air conditioning. This reduces air-conditioning pollen from grasses, weeds and trees. Clean all damp areas to prevent the development of mold spores, cover your mouth and nose in cold weather, eat lots of vegetables and fruits, have healthy weight (being overweight means you are at risk of other health related problems which may trigger asthma symptoms), exercise regularly and take medication given by your doctor.
This is a condition whereby the lining of your bronchial tubes are inflamed. The condition can either be chronic or acute. Acute bronchitis is quite common and often develops from a respiratory infection or a cold and can cause the crackling sound when you breathe. However, chronic bronchitis is more serious and is often caused by smoking. It causes constant inflammation or irritation of your bronchial tubes lining.
The treatment of bronchitis mainly focuses on easing breathing and relieving symptoms. You should avoid smoking as it will irritate the lungs. If you go to areas that have lung irritants, you should wear a mask. You should also loosen mucus and relieve coughs by using humidifiers. The humidifiers should be cleaned regularly. Also, drink lots of fluids, breath in moist & warm air and get adequate rest. If you have chronic bronchitis, you can benefit from pulmonary therapy. This is a program conducted by respiratory therapists that provide breathing exercises. Your doctor may also prescribe some cough medicine, antibiotics and maybe an inhaler.
4. Pulmonary Edema
This condition comes about when the air sacs of your lungs have excess fluid build-up. This build up may have been caused by certain medications, heart failure, trauma or severe infection. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, anxiety, pale skin, crackling sound when breathing, coughing blood, restlessness, nasal flaring and confusion among others.
Have a diet that is inclusive of low-salt and/or follow your dietitian’s instructions. Weigh yourself each day and consult a doctor when you gain about three pounds in one day, take measures to control your blood pressure, get a lot of sleep at night and follow your doctor’s medical advice to the letter.
This condition occurs when your lung air sacs are destroyed resulting in progressive shortness of breath and a crackling sound when breathing. The leading cause of emphysema is smoking. Your air sacs are normally spherical in shape, but when emphysema worsens, the shape of the air sacs changes to irregular pockets and their inner walls get gaping holes. This irregular shape reduces your lung’s surface area. Therefore, very little oxygen is able to reach the bloodstream. Your air sacs have small airways that are held by elastic fibers. Emphysema also gradually destroys those elastic fibers resulting in collapsing of the airways when you exhale making it hard for the oxygen in your lungs to escape.
Unfortunately, once the damage has been caused by emphysema, it cannot be reversed. However, treatment given slows down the emphysema progression. You should cease smoking, even second-hand smoke. You should also avoid all respiratory irritants like perfumes, cooking odors and incense. Do regular exercise to increase the lung capacity and keep safe from cold air to avoid the spasms of the bronchial passage. Lastly, avoid most respiratory infections by getting vaccinations against them like influenza, pneumonia etc. Your doctor may also prescribe inhaled steroids, antibiotics, bronchodilators to relieve breath shortness, constricted airways, crackling sound and coughing. Pulmonary rehabilitation is also advisable to provide you with breathing exercises. If you suffer from severe emphysema with little oxygen in the blood, you should use supplemental oxygen when exercising to get some relief.
6. Lung Cancer
This is a cancer type that starts in your lungs. Smokers are at the highest risk of getting lung cancer. This condition is characterized by unrestrained growth of cells in your lung tissues. Common symptoms include coughing (even blood), shortness of breath and weight loss.
Many people who have lung cancer find it hard to breathe. Therefore, they should receive treatment like medication and supplemental oxygen to ease breathing. They should also quit smoking. If you’re a victim, you should try and relax when experiencing shortness of breath.
Settle in a position that is comfortable when you are experiencing breathing problems. Avoid non-essential tasks because you may need the energy during an attack. Always sit close to a window, have a fan aimed towards you, eat several meals (small) daily and ensure that you have had enough sleep.
This condition occurs when your airways are blocked or when the outside of your lungs are under too much pressure. When this happens, it may lead to atelectasis (collapsing of lungs and the lung becoming airless) in some cases. Blockage is caused by foreign bodies getting in your air passage. Pressure outside your lungs can be caused by injury, pleural effusion, lung scarring, tumors or pneumonia.
Treatment for blockage includes supplemental oxygen, exercise courses, breathing exercises, mechanical ventilation and some other measures all depending on how severe the condition is.
It is important that you first check your symptoms carefully for further treatment or diagnosis. The causes listed here may not be comprehensive hence the need to seek medical advice. The doctor is the only one in a position to know the underlying cause and provide professional help.