GP thinks I am nuts....crackling lungs - British Lung Foun...

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GP thinks I am nuts....crackling lungs

Jen3675 profile image

Hey, I posted a little while ago. I am a 36 year old female with 20 year pack history.

Stopped smoking cold turkey 9 weeks ago as one day I woke up an couldn’t breathe. Felt like my lungs were full with fluid. Not sick.

Numerous antibiotics/steroids/inhalers/ chest x-rays (which were all clear) and a 9 week cough and here I am . Cough is productive with white phlegm and maybe finally easing slightly. I say that very cautiously! Still a bit breathless.

But I am left with a crackling/vibrating when I take a full deep breath. It’s like my lungs ping open when the pressure gets high enough. Worse when I am laying down.

Seen my GP today and he is very dismissive of this sensation and says my chest sounds clear.

Should I be worried about pulmonary fibrosis? GP thinks it’s impossible at my age and I very much hope I am just being a fatalist!

59 Replies

Hiya Jen, Have you been diagnosed with something like asthma? COPD? Because I have severe asthma and when I start coughing up lot of white phlegm I can tell that my lung is inflammed and an infection is not far away. It can have a crackling noise when breathing. So I would maybe check a different doctor.

And hear a second opinion, don't put so much worries on your shoulders Hun, it will not help. I hope that you will get another answer to your symptoms and get some help. Best wishes and stay safe and warm 🍀🍀🍀

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to MELNEL

Thank you for your message 😊 💕

I have no diagnosis of asthma or COPD. I have literally been in this state for 9 weeks and it isn’t getting better 😢

Don’t really know where to turn. Saw the go today and he said my chest is perfectly clear yet I am breathless and crackling on a deep breath.

Trying not to worry but it’s impacting on everything and feeling pretty awful and can’t get any help.

MELNEL profile image
MELNEL in reply to Jen3675

You very much welcome. And I agree with Bevvy, that you might had an infection and it's still not cleared up, but I am surprised that the Doctor haven't done any further testing. When I have an infection and take antibiotics and steroids for a week, it will take over a month at least that I am back to normal again, sometimes longer.I would definitely arrange another appointment to get this sorted if there is no further improvement within 2 weeks or so.

You take care of yourself 😘🌹🌹🌹

It could be because you have given up smoking, your body could be getting rid off all the gunk in your lungs from yrs off smoking

It absolutely could be and I have been trying to factor this in to my positive thinking 😊

Patk1 profile image
Patk1 in reply to Jen3675

Its good that lungs sound clear.viral coughs can linger for weeks.the ping may actually be in throat/ upper airways. Ru getting mucous up? Stopping smoking after long habit can produce many symptoms+ can take months + months to recover from

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Patk1

For 9 weeks? My lungs are clear and then not.....I can feel quite distinctly where the issue is. It’s a strange feeling, rattling more than ever tonight but in a different place 🤷🏻‍♀️

I know it could be smoking but the symptoms just seem a little extreme. Trying to be patient and let things settle or not 💕

JaneChapple profile image
JaneChapple in reply to Jen3675

Id be tempted to ask for a second opinion from another doc at the surgery if you are still concerned. I dont think the doc was very sensitive. Doesnt mean because you are young you wont have anything. I think some docs need tovlearn about senditivity and duty of care the patient?!


Sounds like you have had a really bad infection and is taking it’s time to clear up. You need to be patient and give your body time to heal. Certainly no reason to think something so serious as pulmonary fibrosis.Good that you think starting to improve but you right to be cautious. Don’t rush things or you could end up back where you started. From what you have said could take a number of weeks to feel better. Be kind to yourself.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Bevvy

Thank you for your level headed reply. I have gotten my self in a little tiz!

On my last post, someone said it sounded like PF and I think since then it has stuck in my head.

As soon as I lay down and breath the crackling starts and comes at the very end of a deep breathe. Google says (never consulting him ever again) that late crackles are bad. I am trying to be level headed but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking slightly!

It’s also pretty depressing not to be able to breathe and the anxiety is killing me!

Really do appreciate your reply 😊

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to Jen3675

You may find it easier whilst poorly to sleep more up right?? That lessens the congestion on the lungs. Because (hopefully) this is a temporary thing whilst you are unwell. Try using more pillows to prop up. Or could use heavy books to raise you mattress up a bit.I am unable to lie flat so use a foam wedge to support myself. These can help but obviously have to be purchased. It can take some time to get used to not lying flat. Especially with a wedge. But now I couldn’t manage without.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Bevvy

Thank you Bevvy ☺️ I currently sleep on 3 pillows but it’s tricky to actually sleep sitting up and my youngest still sleeps with me 💕I might be able to get away with another her pillow though 😊

The crackle is probably the phlegm moving in your lungs as you breath deep this is a good thing as it sounds like its moving. if you go to the blf website they have videos of lung clearing exercise that may help you. (Deep breaths can help stop further infections )

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to corriena

Thank you 😊 I will take a look, weirdly enough, I feel exercise helps, after the coughing stops!

Oh dear this doesn't sound pleasant. I wonder if you have had a spirometry test or a peak and flow one.

The first one is a breathing test and is often used to diagnose copd and asthma. Sometimes just the second one is used to diagnose asthma. I got asthma in my early 30's due to smoking and because I didn't give up it became copd as well in my 50's. I would ask your doctor for one. 36 is young to get copd but not impossible.

Do you have any close family members who have suffered lung disease?

There is a very good site on here for stopping smoking and staying stopped called Quit. It might help to join there too as there might have been others with the same symptoms when they stopped.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to hypercat54

Hi Hypercar, thank you for taking the time to reply. I haven’t had a spirometer test yet but feel this is the logical next step. I missed a dose of steroid last night and genuinely thought I might die when I woke up 😢 so asthma is a possibility although I thought adult onset was quite rare? Even if it is COPD, I have totally stopped smoking so should be able to be managed to a certain extent. Sorry to hear of your diagnosis and I hope you are doing ok?

Have a family history of emphaseyma 😢

Will definitely take a look at the stop smoking section, thank you 😊

Hi Jen Could be stress and anxiety take time to do your breathing exercises

I know it’s hard I don’t know your lifestyle but save some time for yourself

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to wang79

I would be inclined to agree with you except the relentless cough and really significant episodes of breathlessness.

I am very lucky to have an amazing family that look out for me 💕

wang79 profile image
wang79 in reply to Jen3675

Yes Jen family is everything take care x

I sometimes can hear a crackling noise when I lay down and I have mild bronchiectasis, if it persists go back to GP. And well done on stopping smoking, great willpower n a huge prevention of further chest infections n chest disease.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Losi

Thank you 😊 I wondered if this may be a possibility. I had the severe infections and certainly feels like the mucus can’t get out. How did you get diagnosed?

YummyBear profile image
YummyBear in reply to Jen3675

Jen3675I read with interest your demise. From 1982, I developed a lingering cough after having a cold and used a puffer from time to time to ease the cough. In January 2020, a Locum checked my lungs due to the cough and referred me to see a Respiratory Consultant. After many stringent tests and a CT scan of the chest, I was diagnosed in May 2020 with mild Bronchiectasis as a result of having Whooping Cough in 1982.I was surprised that no other GP had picked this up beforehand! I have a pack of rescue antibiotics and a puffer to use as and when needed. Also advised to do breathing exercises. Hope this helps.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to YummyBear

Hi yummy, thank you for your message. I have just booked a private ct scan to get to the bottom of this.

YummyBear profile image
YummyBear in reply to Jen3675

Hi again, although I had a standard chest xray, it showed up as normal but the Consultant wanted to be certain that she had covered everything, so she arranged for an HRCT High Resolution CT of the Chest. That is how my condition was found.All the best.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to YummyBear

Thank you 😊 this is exactly what I have booked fingers crossed I get some answers!

Change your Doctor!Totally irresponsible of him/ her to say it’s impossible to have PF at your age.

I had a persistent cough for 2 plus years and was handed inhalers, antihistamine drugs etc but it wasn’t until i insisted on a more detailed examination was IPF diagnosed.

Today’s GP’s are too general and are far too quick to brush patients concerns away with a prescription pad.

We know our own bodies and if they listened more and took us seriously then serious illnesses would be diagnosed sooner.

Demand a CT scan and don’t leave their office until it’s done.

Stay safe!

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Mrbojangles

Thank you and very sorry to hear you had a difficult time too. Did any of the drugs make any difference? The cough is driving me a little crackers!

I am tempted just to pay for a private ct scan but also aware it can throw up things that aren’t actually and issue but will need to be watched.

After you stop smoking gradually things start to work again. For example the Cillia within the upper airway which remove particles . This is why people get a cough following stopping smoking. The clear mucus is your body helping the process of the lungs beginning to clear themselves..from memory it took me about three months for my lungs to act normally.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Badbessie

Badbessie, thank you, that’s really helpful 💕 can you remember your symptoms? I feel this is a little extreme for just giving up but I guess you can’t see the damage.

Badbessie profile image
Badbessie in reply to Jen3675

As my doctor put it you have smoked for forty odd years it will take time. I really felt unwell. The worst part was the cough. My chest hurt I coughed that much. My chest felt tight. To be honest I think that was more anxiety than a physical symptom. I felt like there was something that needed to be coughed up but only white mucus came up.

After I stopped smoking, it took about 6 months for all the smoking days mucus to work its way up and out of my lungs, helped by a medical procedure where my head was lower than my feet for half an hour. It could be something similar for you too, so do ask another doctor for a second opinion just to make sure there's nothing more sinister going on.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Ergendl

Maybe I will try dangling upside down for a while 🦇 the docs seem reluctant to investigate any more right now. Did you have a cough/shortness of breath?

I personally would ask for a respiratory assessment, inhaler perhaps or there findings if any could suggest a CT as a diagnostic going forward, take care.

I find mindfulness helps x

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to vwtopaz

Thank you 😊 I would definitely like the respiratory assessment.

I fully agree with Mr Bogangles. You need a second opinion!My Pulmonary fibrosis was only diagnosed with a CT scan,the xray didn't show it up. I had crackling lungs and both the GP and practice nurse could hear them. I also had a persistent cough. You are young and it is extremely unlikely that you have IPF and if that is the case you can stop worrying and concentrate on getting as healthy as you can .However, I would expect my medical practitioners to cover all bases for me or I would find another! Good luck and keep us posted.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Aingeful

Thank you for your message. I am sorry to hear of your diagnosis and I hope you are doing well?

I felt the moment I suggest PF as a possibility he dismissed my symptoms as anxiety 🤦🏻‍♀️

Did you have a wet/dry cough? How did it start?

Aingeful profile image
Aingeful in reply to Jen3675

It was an annoying dry cough. I couldn't finish a phone conversation without coughing several times during the call. It just never went away. Since I've been on steroids this cough has cleared up thank goodness but the IPF will always be there.

Well done for stopping smoking! I've never smoked but some members of my family smoked heavily and I remember how hard they found it to try and cut down or give up. My dad went cold turkey following a heart attack as he was in hospital unable to smoke and in those days there was no popping out to the front door to have one! He got through it and was so pleased with himself for having done it but, as others have said, it takes time for the body to adjust.

I have COPD, asthma and bronchiectasis and frequently experienced what you are going through. I am not suggesting for one minute that you have those conditions. However, I would like to say that for a number of years I have had at least three infections a year and have been treated with amoxycillin or doxycycline which seem to have cleared up the infections but I was still left with the crackling and that vibrating that you describe. Last autumn, I had an infection which was treated with amoxycillin. Two weeks later it was back so I was treated with doxycycline. Two weeks later it was back. So the GP prescribed a week of clarithromycin (I normally have 2 weeks of antibiotics) and that one weeks worth of a completely different antibiotic seemed to do the trick. The infection cleared and my chest is better now than it has been for years. No more night time crackling (used to drive me mad), no more night time coughing when I lie back down after getting up for the loo. Best of all very little phlegm and what there is comes out either clear or pure white - very small quantities.

I have been under the care of a lovely consultant since 2014 and I don't doubt his skills in any way, but despite his care and attention, the crackles and vibration persisted and nothing seemed to show up on x-ray. I think I must have had some bug lingering deep in my lungs that the Clarithromycin finally saw off.

So, as others have said, either go back to your GP or seek another opinion. It may well be that there is something there lurking that needs to be got rid of. It doesn't have to be anything sinister - you may simply need a different antibiotic!

Try not to worry too much. I drove myself mad looking at Google when I was first diagnosed but, thankfully, I found this site and the people on here helped me regain my sanity!

Good luck! xx Moy

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to MoyB

Hi Moy,

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me your story. You have been super unlucky to experience these conditions given that you never smoked 😢

I feel that rattle flared up into full blown congestion overnight 🤦🏻‍♀️ Wouldn’t have gotten through the day without ventolin/fostair.

I called the GP today but he never called back 😢 will chase tomorrow as I feel I need a referral to a specialist. This cough is driving my whole family crazy 😜

Very glad to hear you are in a good place right now and thank you again for sharing.


MoyB profile image
MoyB in reply to Jen3675

You're welcome, Jen. I hope you get something sorted out. xx Moy

Your symptoms are also consistent with bronchiectasis with no added conditions to that. A CT scan ('with contrast") is called for by a radiography department who are used to seeing the full range of pulmonary disease (bronchiectasis is not very common). That means getting a referral by your GP to a large teaching hospital with a reputation for its lung defence capability.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to santisuk

Thank you, I have also wondered this especially as it’s following a severe infection.

Considering paying for a private pulmonologist/ct scan as we are supposed to be moving countries in the next few weeks but not confident to leave in this state!

Hi Jen3675, I would not worry too greatly at this stage I recall after giving up the cigs , feeling worse at first. However I knew after sometime that something was not right my Dr was saying like yours, when I had a show of blood I was referred and still they kept saying it was fine. I take three inhalers now , have a shadow on my lung , with COPD/Asthma. The same thing happened recently my leg pain turned out to be in need of a total knee replacement but because I was walking and treated by other medics based on passed history it was treated as only emotional . You would have my total backing to persist with your concerns but I am biased as because my illness was treated as nothing I have ended up left as disabled with a lesser quality of life. Keep up the good work of none smoking you are doing well. Only you can decide if you need further investigation. Best Wishes.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to katieoxo60

Hi Katie, thank you for taking the time to share your story and very sorry to hear that you have had a rough time 💕 I feel something is going on, I really can’t breathe without the inhalers, the chest congestion is terrible and the cough and crackling is driving me nuts. I feel there is a bit more to this than giving up smoking, I hope I am wrong and it’s just my lack of faith in doctors.

Again, thank you for your message 💕


Hi Je n. It could be mucus in your bronchial tubes that are causing the crackling. I’ve had it and the Dr has said my chest was clear. Maybe using hot steam and a decongestant in it may help. If not then go back again and maybe see someone else.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Mavary

Thank you 😊 I haven’t actually tried a decongestant so I think that is a good shout, I will give it a go 💕

Hi Jen if things don’t feel better with your breathing still in the next week or so , I would go back and push for a spirometry test. In my experience doctors can sometimes dismiss a more serious respiratory condition because of your age. I was 36 like you when I couldn’t push my baby in the pram up the hill to get home anymore . I would get stuck and didn’t dare move in case I had a breathing attack. When I went he assessed me again and gave me a diagnosis of asthma. I never did have asthma I did have copd quite severe copd .Fingers crossed that’s no the case for you . Also that crackling And pinging your feeling ,like someone else said that could be just mucus but in my opinion make sure you let the doc no about that too . I hope you start feeling better really soon . It’s so hard quitting smoking ,so we’ll do ne you 👍.xx

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to MazzM

Hi Mazz, thank you for sharing and I hope you condition is more under control now?

I would be very much inclined to agree with you. I am sure the go thinks I have an anxiety issue and not a breathing issue because of my age 🤦🏻‍♀️

Thank you, the quoting has actually been a breeze, not being able to breathe is the best incentive!xx

I agree with all our commenters but I just want to add, Great Job! for quitting smoking. It is the best thing you can do for yourself and the people who love you. Just never light up another one and you will stay quit! Good luck, also, give it a couple more weeks and if it doesnt get better you need to do something!

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Schmu

Thank you very much and great level headed approach 😊

Thank you so so much for all of your amazing replies 💕 I woke up this morning, well the early hours, so tight chested. No rattling, my chest was solid and I could hardly get a breathe in 😢

I used a lot of inhaler and it literally felt like it moved about an hour later. Left feeling tight chested and rattling. Tried to speak to the gp but that’s impossible right now. I wonder if there is some remaining infection, or it’s bronchitis, or it’s the effects of giving up smoking. I don’t really know but I do know it’s very hard to deal and scary.

I really do appreciate all of your replies and sharing your stories, it helps so much.

I may just pay for a gp consultation/further investigation as the NHS don’t seem to be helping despite my begging.

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to Jen3675

I think you have to insist on gp appointment. Ring as soon as phone lines open and keep ringing until get through. State need emergency appointment. All surgeries have these. Even in difficult times!

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Bevvy

I tried this morning, a good was supposedly calling me back but no one did despite chasing at lunch. I am sure I have been pegged as an “anxious” patient and am being dismissed. Don’t get me wrong, I am a little anxious, not being able to breathe does that 🤷🏻‍♀️ But this is not anxiety driven.

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to Jen3675

If you get any worse you should ring 111. They can phone your gp surgery and insist on an appointment. Or if they more concerned will get paramedics out to check you over.

Jen3675 profile image
Jen3675 in reply to Bevvy

I tried 111 a few weeks ago during a desperate morning of coughing and not being able to catch my breathe. 7 weeks into this and all they were interested in was me getting another negative covid test before accessing face to face care 🤦🏻‍♀️ But if I am really struggling, I will try again 💕

katieoxo60 profile image
katieoxo60 in reply to Jen3675

Try 111 as it is worse today

Hi, Jen! I have had the same symptoms for years now and despite having had all the tests with no diagnosis by the lung specialist my breathing is getting worse and nobody can help me. It is NOT in my head, I had lifelong resporatory issues, but no mucolythic or inhaler ever helped. I can bearly talk or move these days for breathing issues. I am furious that assisted suicide is not legal, because we can only take so much suffering. I am new here and technically not very experienced, never find a thread back here. I would like to stay in touch with you and fellow sufferers, but it doesn't seem like you can message somebody personal here. If you (or other sufferers) want to get in touch with me, perhaps you could message me on the Facebook messenger? You should find me under "Marion Pohl Maidenhead". As I said I never find a thread back here and don't know how to stay in touch. I have "followed" previous threads here, but never saw/got anything in my e-mails anymore about it. I had "saved" threads and cannot find them back now. Hopefully I hear from you. Lots of love and best of luck!

I cannot even find now how to save the thread or how to follow Jen. The features have gone on my phone.

I think any crackling should not be dismissed, could you see another GP.?

Thank you everyone for the amazing support and responses. I have just booked a private HRCT scan so hopefully I can get to the bottom of this. I would normally follow my gp’s lead but we are supposed to be moving countries in just under 2 weeks and without some idea what this is, I don’t feel confident leaving.

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