Symptom: Wheezing

    Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound made while breathing. Most commonly wheezing occurs during breathing out (expiration), but it can sometimes be related to breathing in (inspiration).


    The most common cause of recurrent wheezing is asthma. Possible causes of wheezing include:

    1. Allergies
    2. Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction, such as to an insect bite or medication)
    3. Asthma
    4. Bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition in which abnormal widening of bronchial tubes inhibits mucus clearing
    5. Bronchiolitis (especially in young children)
    6. Bronchitis
    7. Childhood asthma
    8. COPD
    9. Emphysema
    10. Epiglottitis (swelling of the "lid" of your windpipe)
    11. Foreign object inhaled: First aid
    12. GERD — Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    13. Heart failure
    14. Lung cancer
    15. Medications (particularly aspirin)
    16. Pneumonia
    17. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (especially in young children)
    18. Respiratory tract infection (especially in children younger than 2)
    19. Sleep apnea, obstructive (a condition in which breathing stops and starts during sleep)
    20. Smoking
    21. 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.


    • Difficulty breathing
    • Rapid breathing
    • Briefly bluish skin color

    Seek emergency care if wheezing:

    • Begins suddenly after being stung by a bee, taking medication or eating an allergy-causing food
    • Is accompanied by severe difficulty breathing or bluish skin color
    • Occurs after choking on a small object or food

    In some cases, wheezing can be relieved by certain medications or use of an inhaler. In others, you might need treatment such as having a breathing tube put down your throat.

    To ease wheezing, try these tips:

    • Moisturize the air. Use a humidifier, take a steamy shower or sit in the bathroom with the door closed while running a hot shower. Moist air might help relieve mild wheezing in some instances.
    • Drink fluids. Warm liquids can relax the airway and loosen up sticky mucus in your throat.
    • Avoid tobacco smoke. Active or passive smoking can worsen a cough.
    • Take all prescribed medications. Follow the doctor's instructions.


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