Basal Signs of the Lungs

Updated July 20, 2017

Breath sounds heard while breathing in (inhalation), or when a doctor uses a stethoscope to hear more subtle lung noises, means you have a respiratory disease. The most common sound is a crackling noise: This is called "rales" or "crackles."

Basal Crackles

When crackles come from the base of the lung, the basal area, they are known as basal crackles. Bilateral basal crackles are crackles in both lungs. Crackles are clicking, rattling or cracking noises.

Identifying Crackles

Crackles are described as fine or coarse. Fine crackles are soft, high-pitched and brief. They can indicate pulmonary fibrosis or congestive heart failure. Coarse crackles last longer and are much louder. Their presence indicates a disease of the lungs such as bronchiectasis, which causes destruction and widening of the airways.

Lung Diseases

Crackles can be heard in patients with diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis and pulmonary oedema, a build-up of water in the air sacs of the lungs caused by congestive heart failure. While these diseases sound serious, they can be treated. Chest X-rays, CAT scans and pulmonary function tests are among the methods doctors use to further diagnose basal lung problems.

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About the Author

Gabriella West started writing professionally in the early 1990s. Her writing credits include the "San Francisco Review of Books," "Publishers Weekly," "Best Women's Erotica 2004," and the novel "Time of Grace." West earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Trinity College, Dublin, and a Master of Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University.