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British Lung Foundation
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Crackling and squeaking chest/throat noises

Hi I wonder if somebody could help me with this. A few months ago when I went to bed as I was breathing out my throat seemed to be making a sound like 'popping candy', then soon after high pitched squeaking.

A couple of weeks later I went to the doctors thinking I had a chest infection and was told that it was probably a virus and Sent away. Days later I ended up going to an emergency doctor and was told that my chest was rattling from top to bottom and was given steroids, ventolin inhaler and some antibiotics which appeared to do the trick but as soon as the steroids finished I was just as bad and saw another doctor who said that I should have a respiratory test but didn't give me anything.

Days later I was worse and even had pain in my back and was very breathless. My husband took me to A&E. I was put on a nebuliser and given more steroids and (a clear) chest X-ray. This worked and I felt fine again while taking the steroids but once they'd finished I was wheezing really badly, very breathless and back at the doctors. He gave me Montelucast and a preventive inhaler.

I had the respiratory test which showed a score of 74, which my doctor said didn't really tell them much as 80 was normal. I'm now doing a peak flow chart but the GP said I shouldn't be using my preventative inhaler while doing it. I stopped for two days then was really tight chested so had to use it again which has helped.

I don't know if this is a throat problem (my voice keeps going), or a chest problem but am worried sick. I have reactive arthritis following a virus 4 years ago and 10 years ago had pneumonia and empyema. My Dr seems reluctant to refer me to a chest clinic as yet and I've never experienced anything like this before. Also could this be an allergy, asthma, COPD. Although I've never heard anyone make the noises that I do when laid down. It keeps my husband awake.

I'd really appreciate any advice.


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50 Replies

Hi Dwarly, I have no answers for you but lots of sympathy. I have Bronchiectasis and Asthma and squeaks and crackles start the minute I lie down. It's like a mixture of 'snap crackle pop' and sausages sizzling in a frying pan. It drives me nuts but I can usually subdue it a little bit by doing some slow, deep abdominal breaths. Sometimes it's caused by a blocked airway and will clear after coughing/throat clearing. But essentially, I think it's a night-time wheeze, very noisy when I have a chest infection but not too bad when my lungs are relatively clear. Losing your voice as well clearly means there's throat/larynx irritation of some sort. I think you'll just have to keep going to your doctor until he refers you for full respiratory testing.


Thankyou for your reply Argana and sorry that you're suffering too. It's the not knowing that's worrying and obviously what the future holds but hopefully I'll get some answers soon.

Hi Dwarly, I also suffer the same as you, and it is irritating. I use it as a guide for how bad my chest is. My problem is I do not throw up all the usual symptoms all the time that doctors look for for chest infections,

Try gargle with paracetamol to calm your throat as the coughing makes it sore. try propping your self up when its at its worst.

my throat also is sore and yes my voice goes. You may find as well that hay fever is irritating it, try an antihistamine

Hope you feel better soon


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Thanks jackie50. The thing is that I don't really cough, although I feel that I should be. I'll try the gargling though and will mention antihistamine to the GP. Hope you keep well.


Does the sound come from around the bottom of your throat where we have a dip in the top of the chest bone ?

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Hi Mandy 1365. On a night time it does or seems as though it does.

I use to get it when i went to bed then it would start in the day time.

It stopped when i packed in smoking x

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I'm glad you're better. I stopped smoking 20 years ago though and didn't have anything like this until very recently.

Oh Dwarly thats not good...im sorry i was skipping through the posts i missed a bit of yours

Oh dear...your gp must refer you to someone else if he cant find the answer....its ok for them to go home at the end of the day and leave us to worry..

Do you have a chest consultant you can talk to and have you tried the blf nurses on here...maybe they could help x x

Hi Mandy 1365. I haven't a consultant and I'm new on here so not sure how to contact nurses.

Well just about to go to bed, dreading trying to get to sleep.

Seeing the respiratory nurse on 10th May with my 2 weeks of peak flow chart so will see where I go from there.

the number is 03000 030 555 to get hold of the blf nurses x x

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Thanks Mandy1365. Can anybody phone them or do you have to be under a Consultant or already diagnosed.

Anyone can phone them. Office hours.

Everyone who's called them says they're excellent.

Do give them a call for guidance/advice on what to do for a proper diagnosis.

Can you afford a private consultation? That way you'd get a ct scan done - in my humble opinion the quickest way to see what's what down there.

Good luck

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Thanks peege. I did think of a private referral if I don't get anywhere with the GP but will have to look into cost. Back to see the respiratory nurse soon. Have had to use the preventive inhaler though while doing is peak flow chart, as when I stopped I got really bad. She's just going to have to go on that, she said. Early days I suppose so will see.

Hope you're well and thanks for the reply.

No worries.

Just a suggestion, why don't you do the peak flow first thing in the morning before the preventive? It might be worth a try just for a true reading.

I was similar to you but once Id had everything else ruled out with the ct scan (Bronchiectasis, aspergillosis) they could concentrate on asthma and im mostly loads better.

Do you have a blue inhaler? That takes some learning too, to take it before exertion, extremes of temperature etc rather than waiting to use it in an emergency.

I would have begged, borrowed or stolen to get a private ct scan. It took a while and got one in the end.

Once again, good luck.

Hi peege, I have a blue inhaler but don't think it makes a lot of difference to be honest. On my respiratory test after taking it I improved by 6%. It's the preventative that seems to have a good effect.

Glad you got sorted x

Anyone who has a question can call them...i hope they put your mind at ease x

Thanks Mandy 1365 x

Hi I'm.doing the same thing. Is it serious when.these sounds occur? I'm.anxious now and quitting smoking for good!!

Different guy here, but yes the squeak comes from the top of my sternum

That's where mine is. I hate 2 go to doc for I smoke and I know what their going to find. My dad just died and everything he had I got so I'm going to die from this. I know it's lung cancer or throat cancer so why bother. I'm just a walking time bomb.

Thanks squady. For your helpful advice. Although I get the pain where you said, I do feel most of it is upper tract.

Hi Dwarly, I've recently been dx with copd much to my dismay :( I was breathless and weird noises coming from my throat and chest, especially during the night and early morning. Obviously you are worried, it seems that they are just throwing meds at you with not much investigation :( My advice is to , go to your GP and tell him you are concerned, says me who keeps going back and not saying what I really want to say !

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Thanks nicgum. You're right, I should push it a bit and you should try and say what you really want to also. Thanks for your reply.

Agree with tadaw and others that you need to be seeing a consultant. This illness requires far more care and expertise than what a GP can give, although the GP has a very useful role.

Good Morning, My husband suffers with COPD and boy does he make noise when he lays down! There is a lot of crackling etc. going on and actually it indicates to me whether or not he is more ill than usual or is brewing an infection. Having said that I think you should push to see a consultant if you want one especially if you are worried. My husband tends to bury his head so has always refused an consultant! Take good care, lots of love TAD xx


Hi TAD, so sorry your husband is ill. It's a nightmare and so worrying watching someone else suffer. I think a lot of men tend to bury their heads, at least mine does. Thanks for your reply and hope your husband improves xx

Mine is awful and tries to ignore everything. I am completely the opposite but I cannot get him to see a consultant, I think he is probably frightened. Ah well it wouldn't do for us all to be the same xx

Agreed TAD but as long as he gets no worse. That's the thing. Sometimes you don't want to look further for fear of what you might find. Hopefully he'll stay ok.

Best wishes to you both xx

Thank you and the very best to you xx

Hi Dwarly, i do sympathise, my hubby says sleeping with me is like sleeping with a coffee machine! He often ends up in the spare room. xx

Ha ha Sheilab51. It's been me in the spare room some nights.

Stay well x

Hello Dwarly, it seems as if your GP isn't listening to you very well. I have read somewhere that it is a good idea to write down exactly what is happening. The doc should keep it in your notes.

Time to ask for a second opinion, which I believe you are entitled too. Sleeping propped up really does make a difference. My chest makes funny noises too. In my case coughing usually clears it. My rattles are at the top end.

In your post, you say you had emphysema before. Isn't that in your notes?

Best wishes

AS x

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Hi Azure_Sky,

That's a good point about writing things down and I think I will do that .

It wasn't Emphysema, it was an Empyema. It was a complication of pneumonia where the outside of my lungs filled with puss. I had 3 consecutive drains.

I was told that I had some scarring at the very bottom of one of my lungs but that was it and it's been like that for the past 14 years.

Best wishes to you x

The other thing worth doing, if you are not on antacids (omeprazole etc) although you're unlikely to feel immediate benefit is take a couple of ranitidine before going to bed. Some of your symptoms could be caused by acid reflux aggravating or causing your throat or URT inflammation. Some people don't feel heartburn, so it can cause damage without giving away the cause. Ranitidine is an over-the-counter antacid but can go on prescription if it helps, but doc may issue omeprazole or the like.

As the others say - INSIST on an URGENT referral to a specialist. If your GP doesn't put 'urgent' it could take months.


Thanks for the reply soulsaver. That was mentioned and I was given Omeprazole. I suppose some of it's a process of elimination. Good point though.

Best wishes x

That's so interesting and well done with what you've done. I'll certainly look into this further. When I find my way around this site I'll message you as I'm really interested in how this works.

Thanks again and I hope your wife continues to do well x

wow there is a lot of information here, I have never told a doctor that I rattle like crackle and pop at night or even sound like a coffee machine. did not realise I could phone the nurses will have to remember

Hi Dwarly, I have had the exact same issues/symptoms as you're describing for the last few years, and have been to several doctors about it. My throat "crackles" when I breathe, especially at night-so loud it keeps me awake! I initially went to an asthma/allergy specialist, and although my lungs sounded clear to them, there was obvious wheezing, and difficult for me to breathe, and so they put me on asthma meds, and that really helped, but I did still have some crackling sounds. He suggested I might have acid reflux, and put me on meds for that-and that helped!! Alot! After some time, they had me to do a Methacholine Challenge, which I passed, so they said nope, you don't have asthma, and took me off the meds, even though they were helping-the wheezing and crackling came back, but not as bad. I finally went to a GI specialist, where they confirmed GERD-or Acid Reflux, and said that I have asthma caused by reflux!!! The 2 are intertwined-when you have reflux issues, that acid continually comes up the esophagus, and can aspirate into the lungs which cause the issue with the breathing. The crackling noise is most definitely the reflux, but also probably lung wheezing also because of the reflux. I highly recommend getting on medication for the reflux, while also treating the asthma-like symptoms (I use Advair every day and night). The acid also affects your throat-your larynx (voice), and makes you feel like you should cough alot. Hope this helps you!!!


Hi Nightowl,

Hope you are keeping well. Thanks for the reply and sorry that I didn't reply earlier. Unfortunately my chest has been quite bad again for a couple of weeks and I have been back to see my GP .

He has changed my preventative inhaler from 1 puff, twice a day of 200mcg Clenil Modulite to 2 puffs, twice a day of Symbicort Turbuhaler 100/6 . Also I still have a Ventolin inhaler for when needed, although the Ventolin never seems to make much difference.

My GP still seems to think that I fit into both categories of asthma/COPD but at present is treating me for asthma.

I previously had a lung function test and my GP said that my score was 74 and should have been over 80. I'm not sure what that means to be honest.

Although I do take Omeprazole 20 mg twice daily I do think that you may be onto something with the acid reflux.

Although I don't seem to get symptoms of this I do take an awful lot of other medication for reactive arthritis.

At present I am also taking 30 mg of Zomorph twice a day and have just been changed from 900 mg of gabapentin three times a day to 150 mg of pre-gabalin twice a day.

I have recently started eating really healthy, trying to eat more oily fish, green leafy veg, fruit etc, as I am overweight due to both previous steroids and the in ability to do a lot of exercise due to my arthritis particularly in my spine and with the breathlessness that has made it even harder.

I am hoping that this makes a difference too as my stomach does seem swollen a lot and this could be due to acid and inflammation caused by the medication I suppose and also if there is excess fat there pushing onto my lungs.

I'm not sure to be honest but will see how things go.

Thanks again and best wishes xx

So glad I found this page. I thought I was going insane hearing crackling noises when breathing. It's like I have "space dust" in my nose.

Only happens when I lay down. I havent managed to sleep properly for 6 days.

Will insist on a private referral as my GP is getting past his use by date.

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I have something very similar and wondered about the tests you had and whether you got a prognosis in the end!

I know this post is old but I just thought I would throw out EoE. Eosinophilic esophagutis- the best was to describe it is asthma of the throat. It is when there are a type of white blood cell, eosinophils, in the throat where they should not be. They cause damage to the area causing symptoms. Diagnosis is done by EGD scope by a Gastro Dr and treated by an Allergy and immunology Dr.

I have exactly the same crackling and squeaking, and was diagnosed with COPD, i have rheumatoid arthritis which has also led to nodules on my lungs. i use 3 inhalers and have yearly spirometery tests, i also take steroids daily and i am supplied with extra steroids and antibiotics in an emergency pack as i get regular chest infections. please try sleeping propped up which can help reduce the crackling and coughing.

I'm not the original complainant but I have similar problems. The squeak comes from the top of my sternum and who knows about the crackle

Take u some sleep meds and you want hear yourself doing this! Wish I had some then I wouldn't hear mine.

Idk what say but hope your all good well my mum just had Meningitis

I am suffering exactly the same thing I don't have asthma ocpd I'm also desperate for help I had pneumonia a year ago and these problems has escalated since then

I am having wheezing in bottom of my throat,when I wake up. Also phlegm and coughing. Any thoughts on this? .....Ruby 🌸🌸

Hi Dwarly. I have just found your contribution of 2 years ago . I have a very similar problem and would love to know how yours evolved. I really don't know if you will find this but worth a try.From Jocaan.

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