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Difference between Rales and Rhonchi

Difference between Rales and Rhonchi

Rales and rhonchi are both types of lung sounds that can be heard with a stethoscope. They are both caused by fluid in the lungs, but they sound different. Rales sound like crackles and rhonchi sound like a snore. Learning to distinguish between rales and rhonchi is important for diagnosing lung problems. In this blog post, we will explain the difference between these two types of lung sounds.

What is Rales?

Rales are a type of abnormal lung sound. They’re usually caused by fluid in the air spaces of the lungs. Rales can also be caused by pneumonia, pulmonary edema, and congestive heart failure. Rales are usually crackled or “popping” sounds that are heard when a person breathes in. Rales can also be dry or wet wheezes. Rales are often described as “bubbly.” Rales can be a sign of a serious lung condition, so it’s important to see a doctor if you think you have them. Rales can sometimes be treated with medication, but they may also require hospitalization.

What is Rhonchi?

Rhonchi is a type of low-pitched, continuous lung sound that is produced when air moves through narrowed or obstructed airways. Rhonchi can be heard with a stethoscope and typically sounds like a snoring or rattling noise.

Rhonchi often occur when mucus accumulates in the airways, causing them to become narrower. This can happen in conditions such as bronchitis, COPD, and pneumonia. Rhonchi can also be caused by foreign bodies, such as pieces of food, that become lodged in the airway.

Treatment for rhonchi typically involves clearing the airway and relieving any underlying respiratory infection. In some cases, additional treatments may be necessary to improve symptoms.

Difference between Rales and Rhonchi

Rales and rhonchi are both abnormal lung sounds that may be heard during a physical examination. Rales are caused by the vibration of small pieces of debris in the lungs, such as fluid or mucus. Rhonchi, on the other hand, are caused by the obstruction of airflow through the larger airways. Both rales and rhonchi can be seen in patients with conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or COPD. In general, rales are considered to be more serious than rhonchi, as they indicate a more significant obstruction of airflow. However, both types of lung sounds should be evaluated by a doctor in order to determine the underlying cause.


In this post, we’ve outlined the differences between rales and rhonchi. While both conditions involve breathing problems, they are caused by different things and sound distinctly different. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from one of these conditions, it’s important to seek medical help right away. Thanks for reading!

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