Crackling sounds in your nose may result from several conditions involving your sinuses. Treating the underlying cause can clear your sinuses and eliminate the cracking sounds.

You may be concerned if you feel movement in your nasal passages along with hearing crackling noises. But most cases just involve short-term issues with the sinuses. Long-term crackling, on the other hand, could indicate a more serious condition that warrants a doctor’s visit.

Here’s what you need to know about crackling sounds in your nose, including the possible causes, the treatment methods, and how a doctor may diagnose these sounds.

Crackling noises in your nose most likely stem from issues in your sinuses. Also called paranasal sinuses, your sinuses are basically hollow cavities.

When these become blocked with mucus or fluids or become inflamed, you may hear crackling noises. You might also hear crackling sounds when you blow your nose, as this involves the movement of mucus in your sinuses.

This phenomenon has numerous possible underlying causes, including short-term (acute) illnesses or long-term (chronic) health conditions.

Acute sinusitis

Symptoms of acute sinusitis are similar to a cold and often last 7–10 days. Unlike the common cold, however, acute sinusitis can also cause pain and tenderness around your forehead and cheeks. Congestion in the sinuses may cause crackling sounds.

Sometimes, acute sinusitis may lead to a bacterial infection. In these cases, you might notice discolored mucus, have severe congestion, and feel pain in your face, head, and jaw.

Chronic sinusitis

If symptoms of sinusitis persist for longer than 12 weeks despite treatment, you may have chronic sinusitis. This can lead to swelling (inflammation) within the sinuses, causing mucus to get trapped. Symptoms include:

With chronic sinusitis, crackling sounds in the nose may be due to congestion. This is similar to acute sinusitis.

Nostril myoclonus

Myoclonus is a condition that causes involuntary jerking movements of certain muscles. There are many types of myoclonus, based on the muscle group affected. Nostril myoclonus is a very rare type that may lead to muscle spasms in the nose, which can cause crackling sounds.

Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)

“Hay fever” is a term that describes a group of allergic reactions affecting the nose. These may stem from seasonal triggers, such as pollen allergies, or year-round triggers like dust mites.

Common hay fever symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • congestion
  • itchy eyes
  • watering eyes

Like sinusitis, congestion may cause crackling sounds in your nose.

Pressing on your nose — also called nasal cracking, similar to cracking your knuckles — can cause clicking and crackling noises due to the movement of mucus, fluid, and air in your sinus cavities.

While your nose might accidentally get pressed, such as when you lie facedown in bed, some people intentionally press on their nose to help ease pressure.

The following conditions may cause pressure in the sinuses:

You should not intentionally press on your nose, though. It could cause bleeding, bruising, and breathing issues. As one 2020 case report noted, a more serious complication of nasal cracking is septal hematoma.

Crackling sounds in your nose from short-term health conditions, such as acute sinusitis, may not necessarily be a cause for worry.

Yet you should consider reaching out to a doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if you have signs of a more serious condition, such as a sinus infection.

Also contact a doctor right away if you experience the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • severe headaches
  • neck stiffness
  • confusion
  • facial swelling
  • pain around your eyes or face
  • redness around your cheeks

A healthcare professional may use the following diagnostic tests when identifying the cause of a crackling nose:

  • physical exam to check your nose and mouth, as well as check for signs of tenderness in your face
  • imaging tests, such as a CT scan, to look at your sinuses
  • nasal endoscopy to look at your nasal passages
  • allergy testing to help determine whether certain triggers are causing chronic sinusitis or hay fever
  • blood and urine tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms

Treatment for nose crackling ultimately depends on the underlying cause.

acute sinusitissaline rinse
• pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
• prescription antibiotics (for bacterial infection)
chronic sinusitisnasal steroids
• saline rinse
• steroid rinse
• antibiotic rinse
• allergy medications
endoscopic sinus surgery (if other treatments don’t work)
nostril myoclonusanti-epileptics (if experiencing seizures)
botulinum toxin injections
• hormonal therapies (if experiencing seizures)
hay fever• avoiding allergy triggers
• nasal steroids
• decongestants
• prescription medications, such as leukotriene modifiers

If you continue to experience cracking sounds in your nose despite treatment or if it persists without any other accompanying symptoms, consider seeing a doctor for further evaluation. They can help determine the appropriate treatment plan for you.