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Wheezing: Introduction

Wheezing is an abnormal sound made during breathing that can be compared to a high-pitched whistling sound. Wheezing is a type of breathing difficulty can be a symptom of a variety of disorders, diseases or conditions. Wheezing can result from infection, inflammation, and airway obstruction and other abnormal processes.

Wheezing is made as air passes through narrowed areas in the respiratory tract. Wheezing due to a narrowed trachea (windpipe) is often the result of croup or a foreign body in the throat and partial airway obstruction. Wheezing due to narrowed airways in the lungs is often the result of diseases, such as asthma, COPD, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia. Wheezing can also result from an allergic reaction or the more serious anaphylactic reaction. Wheezing is often made during exhalation, but can be made during inhalation as well.

Wheezing may be combined with rapid breathing, more that about 16 breaths per minute for an adult (tachypnea). This can be a symptom of a serious, potentially life-threatening respiratory condition.

Wheezing can occur in sudden, severe episodes, such as wheezing that happens with an asthma attack. Wheezing can also be chronic and ongoing over a long period of time, such as when it is due to COPD.

Wheezing often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include shortness of breath. Complications of wheezing can include low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels in the body. The underlying disorder, disease or condition can also cause complications. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of wheezing.

Diagnosing wheezing and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. This includes listening with a stethoscope on the chest and throat for wheezing.

A noninvasive test called a pulse oximetry is generally performed. This involves clipping a painless device to the fingertip, which measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. An arterial blood gas test is a blood test that measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, as well as a number of other important markers of effective breathing.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include additional blood tests, culture and sensitivity tests, pulmonary function test, EKG, and imaging tests, such as chest X-ray.

A diagnosis of wheezing and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because wheezing may be mild or intermittent and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of wheezing.

Treatment of wheezing involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment. Treatments may include supplemental oxygen and medications. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of wheezing....more »

Wheezing: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing wheezing and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, wheezing may progress gradually, such as in COPD, or it may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care.

Wheezing can be a sign of a serious condition and should be evaluated immediately. Wheezing is a symptom of many different conditions, so a thorough ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Wheezing:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Wheezing. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Wheezing: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Wheezing

Home medical tests possibly related to Wheezing:

Causes of Types of Wheezing:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Wheezing:

Review causes of types of Wheezing in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Wheezing:

Wheezing: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Wheezing, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

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Wheezing Treatments

Treatment plans for wheezing are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, eases breathing, decreases the risk of developing serious complications, and helps a person to breathe comfortably ...Wheezing Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Wheezing may include:

Review further information on Wheezing Treatments.

Stories from Users for Wheezing

Real-life user stories relating to Wheezing:

Message Boards for Wheezing

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Wheezing or relevant symptoms:

Wheezing: Animations

Medications or substances causing Wheezing:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Wheezing as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Wheezing: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Wheezing may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Wheezing

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Wheezing:

Wheezing: Deaths

Read more about causes and Wheezing deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Wheezing

Sinusitis is overdiagnosed: There is a tendency to give a diagnosis of sinusitis, when the condition is really a harmless complication more »

Whooping cough often undiagnosed: Although most children in the Western world have been immunized against whooping cough (also called "pertussis"), this protection wears off after about 15 years. Thus, any teen or adult with a persistent cough more »

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed early. Some of the chronic lung diseases with diagnostic difficulties more »

Wheezing: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Wheezing

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Wheezing:

Wheezing: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Wheezing: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Organs affected by Wheezing:

The list of organs typically affected by Wheezing may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Wheezing

The list below shows some of the causes of Wheezing mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Wheezing?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Wheezing. Of the 764 causes of Wheezing that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 9 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 6 causes are "common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 2 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 10 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 750 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Wheezing:

The following list of conditions have 'Wheezing' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Wheezing or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Wheezing:

The following list of medical conditions have Wheezing or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.


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Causes of Wheezing Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Wheezing based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Wheezing:

    Subtypes of Wheezing:

    Stridor (695 causes), Wheezing on exertion (1 cause), Expiratory wheeze (19 causes), Asthma-like reaction (2 causes), Stertorous breathing (31 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Wheezing:

    Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breathing difficulties (2922 causes), Stridor (695 causes), Breath sound symptoms (759 causes), Respiratory symptoms (5166 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Lung sound symptoms (743 causes), Lung symptoms (3280 causes), Respiratory tract symptoms (5166 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)

    Symptoms related to Wheezing:

    Asthma (320 causes), Breathing difficulty (2922 causes), Croup (17 causes), Cough (1407 causes), Chronic cough (151 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Chronic bronchitis (19 causes), Medication-induced bronchoconstriction, Tracheobronchitis, Foreign body, Vocal cord dysfunction, Pulmonary edema (72 causes)

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Wheezing

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Wheezing and many other medical conditions:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Wheezing:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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