Welcome to our rales page. On this page we provide a definition of rales, including its clinical significance. We then compare rales against rhonchi with audio recordings and text. Finally, there is a link to the rales training lessons available on this site.

Rales Definition

Rales are abnormal lung sounds characterized by discontinuous clicking or rattling sounds. They can sound like salt dropped onto a hot pan or like cellophane being crumpled.

What about crackles? Crackles and rales mean the same thing. Refer to our 'crackles' page for more information on fine vs coarse crackles, along with patient recordings for each.
rales image

Rales vs Rhonchi

Rales can be compared to rhonchi with these recordings.

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Listen for fine crackles, which are discontinuous, popping sounds similar to velcro being pulled apart.


Listen for lower pitched, snoring or rattle-like sounds.

Rales Guide

Our auscultation guide provides quick access to rales lung sounds. The guide provides a waveform with a moving cursor that is synchronized to the rales audio recording. In addition, listening tips are available.
Rales Guide

Rales Lesson

A lesson on rales (crackles) sounds is included in our Basics of Lung Sounds course. We suggest taking the full course (about 15-20 minutes), but the two rales lessons on fine and coarse crackles can be used without the full course.
Basics of Lung Sounds