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.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
10 Worst Asthma Cities in the U. S. in Pictures
Do you live in one of the 10 worst cites for asthma? There is no such thing as an asthma-free city, but some are more difficult...
Asthma Attack Signs, Treatments, and Prevention
Look at the anatomy of an asthma attack. See these warning signs and symptoms to avoid an asthma emergency such as a persistent...
Asthma Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs, which can be managed with proper treatment. Triggered by two main...
Asthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
What is asthma? Learn about asthma, a chronic inflammation disorder of the bronchiole tubes (airways). Discover information about...
What happens within the body when a person develops bronchitis? Take this quick quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, treatments,...
Bronchitis Symptoms and Treatments
Is bronchitis contagious? Learn about bronchitis, an inflammation of the lining of the lungs. Bronchitis can be aggravated from...
Common Respiratory Illnesses
Is your cough caused by a cold, flu, pneumonia or something else? Learn causes of respiratory infection like bronchitis,...
COPD Lung Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
COPD is a pulmonary disorder caused by obstructions in the airways of the lungs leading to breathing problems. Learn about COPD...
Lung Cancer Quiz: Signs and Symptoms
Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide. Get the facts about lung...
Lung Cancer Symptoms, Stages, Treatment
Learn about lung cancer symptoms and treatments. Get more information on small cell lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and...
What is Asthma? Asthma Myths Debunked
There is currently no cure for asthma, and no specific, single cause for asthma has been identified. Take this quiz on asthma...
Causes of Wheezing
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. ...
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Symptoms, Treatment, Life Expectancy)
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is an inherited disorder caused by mutations in the SERPINA1 gene. People with the...
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that affects a number of different areas of the body at one time, and can be fatal....
A parasite names Ascaris lumbricoides causes ascariasis. Symptoms and signs include abdominal pain, abdominal swelling,...
Asthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of...
Bocavirus infection is usually only found in those with lower respiratory infections or diarrhea. Symptoms include cyanosis,...
Bronchiectasis has three types, 1) cylindrical bronchiectasis, 2) saccular or varicose bronchiectasis, and 3) cystic...
Carcinoid Syndrome (Carcinoid Tumor)
A carcinoid tumor is a tumor that develops from enterochromaffin cells. The important characteristic of carcinoid tumors that...
Chronic Bronchitis (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Remedies)
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least three months, two years in a...
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Symptoms, Causes, Stages, Life Expectancy
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or...
COPD vs. Emphysema (Differences Similarities)
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other health care professionals use to describe a group of...
Emphysema is a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that often occurs with other obstructive pulmonary problems and...
Enterovirus (Non-Polio Enterovirus Infection)
Non-polio enteroviruses cause a variety of infections, including aseptic meningitis, hand, foot, and mouth disease, herpangina,...
Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD)
Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a condition that happens when immune cells from transplanted donor tissue attack the...
Heart failure (congestive) is caused by many conditions including coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, and...
Lung cancer kills more men and women than any other form of cancer. Eight out of 10 lung cancers are due to tobacco smoke. Lung...
Mold exposure may cause symptoms in people who are sensitive to molds. Symptoms of mold allergy include sneezing, runny nose,...
Occupational asthma is a type of asthma caused by exposure to a substance in the workplace. Symptoms and signs include wheezing,...
About 1% to 2% of people in the U.S. have a peanut allergy. Symptoms and signs of a peanut allergy include rash, hives, redness,...
Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness...
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious viral infection. Symptoms include fever and nasal congestion and...
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or...
Other Causes of Wheezing
- Bacterial Infection
- Foreign Object in Airways
- Virus Infection
Examples of Medications for Wheezing
- albuterol (Accuneb, Ventolin & Proventil [all discontinued])
- 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, Atrovent HFA
- ipratropium solution - inhalation, Atrovent
- montelukast, Singulair
- omalizumab, Xolair
- terbutaline, Brethine, Bricanyl, and Brethaire are no longer available in the U.S.
- tiotropium capsule - inhalation