Wheezing is a whistling sound that occurs during breathing; normally the sound is more prominent when you breathe out than when you breathe in (although not always). The sound is caused by air that is forced through airways that are narrower than normal. Narrowed airways can be due to:
- Bronchospasm – The muscle within the lining of the airways contracts. This has an effect of narrowing (constricting) the airways
- Swelling of the lining of the airways
- A lot of secretions (mucus, etc) in the airways
- An inhaled object
- An abnormal growth in the airway
What Should I Do If I Am Wheezing?
Wheezing is a very common condition that can occur with a wide range of lung and airways disorders at any age. The severity of wheezing can vary. Typically, other lung or respiratory related symptoms tend to occur at the same time as wheezing. In particular, a cough is common but other more serious symptoms may be present, such as breathing difficulty.
Wheeze With Breathing Difficulty:
Breathing difficulty can mean breathlessness, fast breathing or difficulty getting your breath. If you have any breathing difficulty and do not already have clear instruction as to what to do then see a doctor immediately.
Wheeze With Other Serious Symptoms:
Again, it is best to see a doctor immediately if you develop chest pain, cough up blood or have any other alarming symptom.
What Tests Are Done For Wheezing?
Your doctor is likely to ask various questions about the nature of the wheezing and other symptoms, followed by an examination. Following a doctor’s assessment, the likely cause may be clear and your doctor will advise on what to do next. Tests may or may not be appropriate. Many people have repeated episodes of wheezing and the cause is usually clear. For example, people with asthma or COPD. However, if the cause is not clear, or you are seriously unwell, your doctor may refer you for one or more tests. The tests done can vary depending on the suspected cause.
What Is The Treatment For Wheezing?
The treatment depends on the cause, mainly consisting of bronchodilators.