Wheezing: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments

Wheezing is caused due to narrowed airways or inflammation. You can hear the high-pitched noise during the exhalation. In some people, it is heard during the inhalation as well. Some people will experience an allergic reaction and there will be mild irritation and the wheezing will not last for long.

If you are suffering from wheezing, you should go for diagnosis and should undergo the right kind of treatment to overcome the issue. If you experience wheezing as a physical symptom due to allergy, you should get the right kind of treatment.

Causes of Wheezing

There are many causes that lead to wheezing. The most common causes are asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). The doctor will diagnose the issue and give you the right kind of treatment to overcome it without any side effects.

Wheezing is observed in patients suffering from the following diseases:

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Emphysema
  • Heart failure
  • Vocal cord dysfunction
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lung cancer
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Reaction to smoking
  • Inhalation of a foreign object
  • Anaphylaxis

Certain medical emergencies such as anaphylaxis will also lead to wheezing. Some people will suffer from hereditary illnesses such as asthma and the wheezing is prevalent in them.

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Risk factors which lead to wheezing are mentioned below:

The wheezing will take place in the following people:

  • People suffering from allergies
  • People suffering from lung cancer
  • Toddlers being exposed to infections from others (at daycare centres)
  • Passive and active smokers

Anyone can develop wheezing and some people will suffer for a short duration and it will lead to chronic issues in others.

Symptoms of Wheezing

If you are suffering from allergy, there will be symptoms in various parts of the body. An allergic reaction is nothing but the reaction of the body by coming into contact with foreign substance or allergen.

  • The symptoms of an allergic reaction will be seen in various parts of the body such as the nose, throat, ears, eyes, stomach lining, skin and lungs.
  • If you are allergic to pet hair, pollen, dust, certain food items and medications, there will be a reaction and it may reflect in the form of wheezing.
  • As soon as the body detects the allergen, the body will try to reject the same and it is the natural response of the body. The body will produce histamines and antibodies to perform the process. The airways will be inflamed due to histamine and the production of mucus will take place.
  • With the production of mucus, the airways will become narrow. As you breathe through the narrowed airways, the whistling sound will be produced.
  • Most of the people will experience wheezing for a short period of time. Some people will experience wheezing by being exposed to cold climatic conditions. It is short-lived and no specific treatment is required. However, the patient might consult the doctor if there is trouble in performing the day-to-day activities.
  • Wheezing symptoms due to allergy
  • High-pitch squeaky noise
  • Whistling noise
  • Musical noise
  • The wheezing is experienced during the inhalation and it is experienced during exhalation as well in some people. There will be a feeling of discomfort in the throat and chest in some people.
  • Anaphylactic shock symptoms will include wheezing. If you are suffering from severe allergy, the anaphylactic shock symptoms are witnessed in the person. If you are subjected to those shock symptoms, you should visit the doctor immediately.
  • The anaphylactic shock symptoms include bluish skin colour, breathing difficulty, rapid breathing and swelling in the lips or face.
  • If you are suffering from allergic asthma symptoms, you will experience coughing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest, and rapid breathing.
  • About 60% of asthma patients suffer due to allergy and it is the most common type of asthma. However, you should not assume that everyone suffering from asthma will suffer from allergy. Those who are suffering from asthma due to allergens will be triggered by the allergens.
  • You should understand the fact that asthma induced by allergens is a long-term condition. If you are suffering from allergic asthma, it will have the key features of allergic reaction.
  • The wheezing can be understood as a symptom of underlying asthma. On the other hand, the wheezing will also take place due to underlying lung disease.
  • If you do not have a history of lung disease or allergic asthma and suffer from wheezing, you should consult your doctor immediately. The symptoms in such instance include pain while breathing, recurrent wheezing, and experiencing wheezing for the first time.

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Diagnosis of Wheezing

The whistling noise that you experience while breath should not be neglected. If the whistling is in the initial stage, it can be handled and overcome very easily. The exact cause for whistling should be figured out. Based on the symptoms expressed by the patients and signs noticed by the doctor, the patient will go through the diagnostic procedures.

  • The pulmonary test will be conducted to diagnose the allergy due to wheezing. The doctor will perform the physical exam to figure out the underlying health condition.
  • The air that moves into the lung and moves out of the lung will be measured through the lung function test. The test is also called a pulmonary test. By offering a bronchodilator, the airways will be opened up. In this process, the lung function will be assessed in the best possible way.
  • Additional tests will be conducted to find out the root cause of wheezing. The tests will be conducted by administering specific drugs which trigger asthma.
  • Nitric oxide present in the breath of the person will be determined to figure out the inflammation of airways.
  • By going for chest X-ray or CT scan, the issue can be traced.
  • To find out allergies, specific skin and blood tests will be conducted.
  • If you are suffering from wheezing due to asthma, the doctor will ask more questions to find out the severity of the condition.

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Prevention of Wheezing

  • If you can control the risk factors such as smoking and exposure to dust and allergens, it is possible to prevent or reduce the intensity of wheezing.
  • If you are suffering from chronic illness such as asthma, it can be handled without medical intervention.
  • You will want to use prescribed medications as well as home remedies to overcome the condition in a very efficient manner.
  • You should not discontinue the medication without the doctor’s consent. If you do so, there will be dangerous relapses.

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Treatment  of Wheezing

There are two ways to treat the wheezing.

  • The inflammation will be controlled so that there will not be wheezing.
  • To decrease the inflammation, you can use prescribed medications. The excess mucus build-up in the airways will be removed in a very efficient manner.
  • Quick-acting medications such as inhalers will be used to overcome the wheezing. You can also use long-acting tablets to overcome the constriction in airways.
  • Syrups are used to treat young children.
  • By using bronchodilators, the wheezing can be arrested very quickly. There are quick-acting bronchodilators which will help in overcoming the cough as well. The smooth muscles will be relaxed which surround the breathing tubes.
  • Some patients should use anti-inflammatory as well as quick-acting medications as per the prescription as advised by the doctor. If you are suffering from long-term illness such as asthma and COPD, the chest physician will prescribe both.
  • If you are suffering from asthma-induced wheezing, you might want to consume food that is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • Meditation and yoga will also have a positive impact on the health.
  • Some people will be greatly relieved by using humidifiers.
  • Seasonal and environmental allergy treatment
  • Some patients exposed to pollens will develop hay fever or allergic rhinitis. By using anti-histamines or steroid nasal sprays, the condition can be overcome.
  • There are people sensitive to dust exposure. It will trigger allergy and the doctor will focus on removal of allergens. In this process, you will want to reduce the humidity level at home and the furnishings and carpets should be cleaned on regular basis.
  • The exposure to pet hair will lead to skin flakes and the urine passed by pets will also lead to allergy. By vacuum cleaning the floor, and other areas, you can keep your home free of pet hair.
  • Certain people will experience wheezing by being exposed to certain kinds of food items. If you are allergic to certain kinds of food items, you should avoid the usage.

Asthma treatment

  • The allergic asthma treatment will be performed by using quick-relief medications. The airways will be expanded by undergoing the asthma treatment.
  • By using long-acting drugs, it is possible to prevent certain kinds of symptoms. The oral corticosteroids and immunomodulators should be taken as per the advice of the doctor.

Shock treatment

  • If you are experiencing wheezing due to anaphylactic shock, you will want to undergo the emergency treatment. If you are suffering from known allergy, you might carry the adrenaline auto-injector. It will be used to administer the injection.
  • Before the arrival of the first aiders, the person should lay down. The injection should be administered with the help of the auto-injector and the allergen should be removed.
  • If you do not have an auto-injector, the first aider will give an adrenaline shot.

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Complications of Wheezing

If you are suffering from severe complications such as dizziness, swollen tongue, throat or trouble breathing, you will want to visit the specialist. The chest physician will examine your lungs. The lung functionality test, blood test and relevant tests will be conducted by the doctor. Based on the performance of the test, the doctor will prescribe most appropriate medication. The medication varies from few days to few months.

  • The wheezing will worsen if you fail to follow the treatment. The course prescribed by the doctor should be completed and you should not stop the medication abruptly.
  • You should go for regular check-ups as per the insistence of the doctor.
  • There will be alternate mental state and shortness of breath if you avoid the medication.
  • The cause of symptoms will decide the course of action. If your wheezing worsens, you should share the information with the doctor. You will want to go for aggressive treatment so that there will not be damage to the lungs and airways.
  • If you are suffering from severe chest pain along with wheezing, you should consult the doctor immediately. Tightening of the muscles in around the bronchial tubes will also have a great impact on wheezing.
  • The tone of wheezing will vary as per the part affected by the constriction. The doctor will identify the cause through the physical examination and lung functionality test.

Myths related to Wheezing

Myth #1:  You cannot manage wheezing due to asthma

If you are suffering from wheezing due to asthma, you will want to undergo the medication after the diagnosis. The chest physician will offer the best medication to overcome the condition. The health issue can be managed in an effortless manner.

Myth #2: Smoking will not have an impact on wheezing

you should avoid smoking and should follow a healthy lifestyle. Active as well as passive smoking will have an impact on wheezing.

Myth #3: Fluid intake will not have an impact on wheezing

You should take fluids at regular intervals. It will help in the relaxation of airways and the sticky mucus will be loosened without any issues.

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Wheezing is prevalent in many people due to various health issues. Smoking, asthma, exposure to dust and allergens will also lead to wheezing. People suffering from lung cancer, bronchitis, pneumonia, vocal cord dysfunction, and heart failure will also suffer from wheezing. You should seek medical help to cover the symptom. The doctor will diagnose the issue and you will be subjected to medication. In some cases, the Wheezing cannot be prevented completely and it should be managed in such a way so that there will not be any difficulty for normal living.

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Last updated on : 24-12-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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