If a person were to have significant amounts of fluid in their lungs, one could likely here "crackles" even without a stethoscope. Alternatively, somtimes what is more apparent is the presence of "wheezing" which is often found in heart failure (even though it tends to be more associated with asthma).
However, a stethoscope will not only pick up the "loud" crackles but will also be able to hear the more subtle (yet important sounds) that the human ear would be unable to detect.
I have on occassion heard crackles from my mouth but more often mornings upon waking. I've had two chest xrays over a year spance -- the last one being only 3 months ago and my heart is normal size. I've also had two BNP blood tests; the first one showing a result of "4" and the second one showing a result of "16" but still far below the "100" cut off limit that would indicate any heart stretching.
I lean toward my crackles being possibly from asthmatic bronchitis or possibly chronic bronchitis but being a non-smoker, mine is probably a result of my years of badly conrolled GERD.
I will be getting a spirometry this week and this should possibly tell me more.
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