What is wheezing?

Wheezing is a whistling or squeaky sound that can occur in the chest when a person breathes in or out. It is often seen in people who have respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Symptoms of Wheezing

Wheezing is a common symptom of respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, and COPD. It can be characterized as a whistling sound when someone breathes, and is usually accompanied by other signs and symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing when exhaling
  • Rapid breathing

What causes Wheezing?

Wheezing is usually caused by an obstruction of the airways, such as inflammation or narrowing of the bronchial tubes. This can be caused by a number of conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis, allergies, and COPD. Some other causes of wheezing include:

  • Exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and dust
  • Infections such as pneumonia and the common cold
  • Heart failure
  • Lung cancer
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction

Diagnosing Wheezing

When diagnosing wheezing, your doctor will take a thorough history and physical exam. Your doctor may also order tests, such as chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests, to confirm the diagnosis and to assess the severity of your condition. Blood tests and pulmonary function tests can help determine the cause of your wheezing.

Treating Wheezing

Treatment for wheezing depends on the underlying cause. Your doctor may prescribe medications, such as bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs, to help open the airways and reduce inflammation. Other treatments may include:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Inhalers to help open up the airways
  • Bronchial thermoplasty, a procedure to reduce airway spasms
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, a program to help improve breathing
  • Surgery, if an underlying condition requires it

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms and to consult with your doctor about any medications you may need. Wheezing is a common symptom of respiratory problems and can be serious if not treated properly.