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Alternative Names Return to topSibilant rhonchi
Definition Return to top
Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound during breathing. It occurs when air flows through narrowed breathing tubes.
Considerations Return to top
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.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Take all of your medications, especially respiratory inhalers, as directed.
Sitting in an area where there is moist, heated air may help relieve some symptoms. This can be done running a hot shower or by using a vaporizer.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
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.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your doctor 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:
Your doctor may prescribe drugs to relieve narrowing of the airways, such as albuterol.
A hospital stay may be needed if:
References Return to top
Schatz M. Asthma in adolescents and adults. In: Rakel P, Bope ET, eds. Conn’s Current Therapy 2008. 60th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 189.Update Date: 5/12/2009 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., Inc.