Wheezing Introduction

People may often present to a physician because they hear themselves or their child wheezing. The high-pitched, whistle like sound may be heard more commonly on inspiration (breathing in) but also may be heard on expiration (breathing out).

Inflammation causes the airways of the lungs to narrow and making it more difficult to breathe. The narrowing is what leads to the wheezing as the air has difficulty moving through your lungs.

Wheezing- Asthma

Wheezing In The Lungs
Credit: AJC1 @ Flickr.com

Not All Wheezing Is Asthma

However, not all wheezing is asthma.  A number of other conditions may also lead to wheezing such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • COPD
  • Vocal Chord Problems

Should I Be Concerned If I Hear Wheezing?

Wheezing is never normal and you should see your doctor if you hear wheezing. If you have never heard wheezing before or are unsure what wheezing sounds like you can listen to this audio. Just because you wheeze, you do not necessarily have asthma. Wheezing is just one of the classic symptoms associated with asthma.

Based on your current history, your family history, and other medical problems your doctor may make a diagnosis of asthma or do other testing. An asthma diagnosis is more likely if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic or nighttime cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

Inhaler For Wheezing

Using An Inhaler For Wheezing
Credit: Dieselbug2007 @ Flickr.com

Do I Need To See a Doctor?

If you have never wheezed before and you do not have a condition that may lead to wheezing, you should see a doctor to help figure out which of the many causes of wheezing are affecting you.

When you see a doctor they are likely to ask you a number of questions that you should be prepared to answer:

  • Have you wheezed before? 
  • When did your wheezing start?
  • Are there certain times of the day when you wheeze more?
  • Are you aware of any triggers or things you know will bring on wheezing?
  • Does your wheezing lead to toehr symptoms like shortness of breath or decreased ability get things done?
  • Do you have allergies?
  • What has happened in relation to your recent symptoms?
  • What makes your wheezing  better or worse?

If you can answer these questions you and your doctor will be one step closer to figuring out what is causing your wheezing.

It Is Important To Recognize Triggers

Triggers are conditions or things that "set off" wheezing. For example, some people know that certain flowers, a old boyfriend's cologne, or other thing may set off wheezing. Likewise, some people point o changes in the weather that may set off wheezing.

Wheezing If I Already Have Asthma

If you are currently under treatment for asthma, wheezing could mean a couple of things:
1. Your treatment is not optimally working
2. You may not be using your treatment as directed

If your asthma is under good control, you should have a good exercise capacity, few symptoms, and not wheeze significantly. One solution might be to ask your doctor for a health information prescription to try to improve communication with your doctor.

Make sure that you have an asthma action plan and follow instructions if you are wheezing.

What do you think? If you have wheezed before, what has worked for you in terms of getting your asthma under control?