Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound during breathing. It occurs when air moves through narrowed breathing tubes.
Wheezing is a sign that a person may be having breathing problems. The sound of wheezing is most obvious when breathing out (exhaling), but may be heard when taking a breath (inhaling).
Wheezing most often comes from the small breathing tubes (bronchial tubes) deep in the chest, but it may be due to a blockage in larger airways or in persons with certain vocal cord problems.
Always take all of your medications as directed.
Sitting in an area where there is moist, heated air may help relieve some symptoms. This can be done by running a hot shower or using a vaporizer.
Call your health care provider if:
If wheezing is severe or occurs with severe shortness of breath, you may have to go directly to the nearest emergency department.
The doctor or nurse will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
The physical examination may include listening to the lung sounds (auscultation). If your child is the one with symptoms, the doctor will make sure he or she did not swallow a foreign object.
Tests that may be done include:
A hospital stay may be needed if:
Schatz M. Asthma in adolescents and adults. In: Bope ET, Rakel RE, Kellerman R, eds. Conn’s Current Therapy 2012. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:section 6.
Szefler SJ. Advances in pediatric asthma in 2009: gaining control of childhood asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Jan;125(1):69-78.
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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