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Wheezing

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Normally we cannot hear ourselves breathing. However, due to certain reasons you can listen to a whistling sound coming out when you exhale. This is called wheezing. The high-pitch sound gets emitted due to narrowing of the airways.

Symptoms associated with wheezing

Experiencing shortness in breath very commonly occurs with wheezing. Chest pain and tightness in chest along with coughing, sneezing, puffy eyes, swollen face, bluish skin, stress, dizziness, etc. are some other symptoms that might show up depending upon the underlying cause.

Causes of Wheezing

Air passages become narrow when they are inflamed or infected by allergens, microorganisms or any other factors. Spasms in the air channels can also produce such noises. Wheezing is a symptom of the following causes:

  • Asthma
  • cardiac asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • bronchiolitis
  • Allergy to pollens, food, pollutants, dust, pets, insects
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • vocal cord dysfunction
  • lung cancer
  • viral infection in children
  • Excessive smoking
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pulmonary embolism

When to see a doctor?

You need to go for a medical check up for wheezing if you observe coughing up greenish or gray coloured phlegm or frothy white phlegm, symbolizing heart failure.

Pulmonary embolism is indicated by wheezing sound, chocking, chest tightness and bloody cough while wheezing accompanied by terrible suffocation and shortness in breath are warning signs of asthma. Observing any kind of allergy, along with breathing complications and whistling sounds while breathing out may notify an anaphylactic shock.

As said above, pneumonia and bronchitis are also responsible for wheezing; under such condition one will experience high fever which absolutely demands medical help.    

However, to be on the safe side you should not neglect even if you are experiencing the symptoms for the first time.

Diagnosis of wheezing

Wheezing definitely needs diagnosis and your doctor will scrutinize the symptoms very carefully.

The diagnosis begins with a physical exam and your doctor will ask you questions related to your health in general, medical history, your energy level, food and sleeping habits, any medicines you are taking, the frequency of occurrence and many more.

Your doctor will hear the sounds of your lungs with a stethoscope to detect allergies, infections and other types of respiratory disorders. Following this, you may need to undergo lung function tests, chest X rays, breathing tests and several blood test to rule out for infections and levels of IgE and white blood cells.

What are the probable treatments for wheezing?

After verifying the symptoms, your doctor will suggest you treatments that would depend on your health complication that is causing wheezing. Usually anti-inflammatory, anti-histamines, anti-allergy and antibiotics are given to treat various kinds and various degrees of infections, allergies and respiratory troubles like asthma. Bronchodilators are often used to relax the muscles of the air passages which in turn stop the wheezing sounds.

When patients face trouble in breathing they are given oxygen therapy or are kept under a nebulizer or a mechanical ventilator to normalize breathing and subsequently get relieved from wheezing.

What to expect?

Since wheezing is a symptom of various health complications, it goes away with the specified treatment.

You may be retained in the hospital if your doctor considers that an emergency treatment is needed.

Home Remedies for Wheezing

You can incorporate these measures to improve your airways:

  • Stay in a warm and humid environment. Inhale steam, have showers in lukewarm water.
  • Avoid consuming foods that have triggered allergic reactions
  • Stay away from allergens
  • Practice yoga and breathing techniques to get rid of the troubles
  • Quit smoking for getting rid of respiration problems

We hope you have understood the symptom properly and can sense it.  Do not delay and wait for your health to deteriorate further. Get an early treatment to heal yourself quickly.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015