CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Wheezing indicates difficulty breathing, often caused by constricted or partially blocked airways. It most often arises from the smaller breathing tubes deep in your chest (bronchioles), but may also originate in a larger airway. Wheezing can be caused by inflammation or a physical obstruction, such as a tumor or a foreign object that's been inhaled. Other causes of wheezing include:
- Bronchiectasis, achronic lung condition in which abnormal widening of bronchial tubes inhibits mucus clearing
- Childhood asthma
- Foreign object inhaled: First aid
- Heart failure
- Lung cancer
- Medications (particularly aspirin)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- Respiratory tract infection (especially in children younger than 2)
- Vocal cord dysfunction — a condition that affects vocal cord movement
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Irwin RS. Diagnosis of wheezing illnesses other than asthma in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 21, 2010.
- Weiss LN. The diagnosis of wheezing in children. American Family Physician. 2008;77:1109.
- Fakhoury K. Wheezing illnesses other than asthma in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 21, 2010.
- Wheezing. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec05/ch045/ch045j.html#. Accessed Oct. 21, 2010.
- Kraft M. Approach to the patient with respiratory disease. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/224115160-2/0/1492/347.html?tocnode=54615300&fromURL=347.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2805-5..50088-4_3500. Accessed Oct. 21, 2010.
- Scarfone RJ, et al. Pediatric respiratory emergencies: Lower airway obstruction. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..00167-5. Accessed Oct. 21, 2010.