Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Does a crackling sound indicate Pulmonary Fibrosis?"

ZocdocAnswersDoes 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.


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.

Zocdoc Answers 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 (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.