ZocdocAnswersDoes a crackling sound indicate Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Question

Does a crackling sound indicate Pulmonary Fibrosis?

I have what I have believed was adult onset asthma for several years (I'm now age 48). I had chest xray and BNP blood tests and no heart enlargement. The crackles during inhalation usually only occur when I'm in bed at night and are VERY concerning to me. I do not have post nasal drip or sinusitis, in fact I have dry sinuses. I have had GERD for many years as well and I found medical info associating it with Pulmonary Fibrosis, which raised my concern even more. I will be seeing a pulmonologist ASAP but in the mean time, a general answer to my question would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

Answer

Crackles is a term that is used to describe a sound that is heard when a doctor listens to the lungs with a stethoscope. Generally, these are extremely quiet sounds that can't be heard without using a stethoscope, so I am not sure what to make of the sounds that you are hearing when you go to sleep at night. Wheezing on the other had is a sound that can be audibly heard with inhalation, and I wonder if this might be what you are hearing, especially since there is a strong association between bad acid reflux (GERD) and night time wheezing. This might also be the cause of your 'adult onset asthma.' Pulmonary fibrosis does cause crackles (heard with a stethoscope) and there are a few studies that suggest that it might be associated with chronic severe GERD. Again, however, I am not sure that this is what you are hearing when you are falling asleep. In summary, I think it is excellent that you are going to see a pulmonologist, because they should be able to shed a lot of light on the situation. It also sounds like you need to get your GERD under better control, and you could talk to either a gastroenterologist or your primary care doctor about this issue.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.