Wheezing is a whistling sound that occurs during breathing, usually during expiration (breathing air out of the lungs) through narrowed airways. Inflammation of the airways, bronchospasm (tightening of the muscles around the bronchial tubes), and hypersensitivity (reactivity to triggers such as allergens, irritants, or infections) all play a role in the development of wheezing. Any conditions or diseases that can constrict the airways can lead to wheezing. Wheezing can be accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. Wheezing may also occur in anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
Other causes of wheezing
- Bacterial Infection
- Foreign Object in Airways
- Virus Infection
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Causes of Wheezing
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
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Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that affects a number of different areas of the body at one time, and can be fatal. Causes of anaphylaxis can be food allergy, latex allergy, allergy to insect or but stings/bites, asthma, or other materials or conditions. Symptoms include flushing, itching, hives, anxiety, rapid or irregular pulse. Severe symptoms may be throat and tongue swelling, swallowing, and difficulty breathing. Some disorders appear similar to anaphylaxis such as fainting, panic attacks, blood clots in the lungs, heart attacks, and septic shock. If you think that you may be having an anaphylactic reaction, seek emergency care or call 911 immediately.
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Aspergillus Infection (Aspergillosis)
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Chronic Bronchitis (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Remedies)
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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
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COPD vs. Emphysema
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Occupational asthma is a type of asthma caused by exposure to a substance in the workplace. Symptoms and signs include wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The usual treatment for occupational asthma involves removal from exposure and the use of bronchodilators and inhaled anti-inflammatory medicines.
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Examples of Medications for Wheezing
- albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil)
- budesonide (oral inhalation, Pulmicort, Pulmicort Flexhaler)
- cromolyn, Nasalcrom, Gastrocrom (Intal, Opticrom are discontinued)
- fluticasone disk inhaler - oral, Flovent Rotadisk
- fluticasone propionate oral inhaler (Flovent)
- ipratropium bromide inhaler (Atrovent)
- ipratropium solution - inhalation, Atrovent
- montelukast, Singulair
- omalizumab (Xolair)
- terbutaline (Brethine)
- tiotropium capsule - inhalation