WheezingBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/wheezing/MY00291
Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound made while breathing, usually breathing out (expiration). Wheezing results from narrowed airways. The most common cause of recurrent wheezing is asthma, but there are many other possible causes of wheezing.
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
When to see a doctor
Talk to your doctor if wheezing is happening for the first time, if it's a recurrent, unexplained problem, or if it's accompanied by:
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Altered mental state
- Allergic reaction to an insect bite or medication
Seek emergency care if wheezing is severe or results in:
- An inability to catch a breath
- Hives and swelling in the face or throat
To ease wheezing, try these tips:
- Breathe moisturized air. Sit in the bathroom with the door closed while running a hot, steamy shower or use a vaporizer. Moist, warm air may help relieve wheezing in some instances.
- Take all prescribed medications as directed, especially respiratory inhalers.
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