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Crackling on exhale with clear lung sounds, what can this be?


The last few days, I've been feeling a bit run down. I noticed when I lay down, when I exhale there is a quiet crackling noise. If I am not lying down, I can only hear it if I take a long exhale, like to get all the air out. I went to the dr for it and was told my lungs sound clear. I have a bit of fluid in my ear and no fever. Currently, there is only a cough on exertion and I am not coughing anything up (even with taking mucinex as my dr recommended). I does feel like there is something to cough up in my throat, but it doesn't ever seem to come up with throat clearing or coughing. What does come up seems totally clear.

I have been feeling very out of breath and have extremely labored breathing at the slightest bit of activity (like walking from my car inside). I also have noticed (possibly related?) for a few months now and occasional bubbling feeling in the left side of my ribcage. It isn't painful, but feels unusual.

It's concerning to me because I had a similar issue for a few months last year, they put me on antibiotics and took chest xrays and found nothing. Any ideas what this could be? I'm not in pain, but the breathlessness is certainly alarming.
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