Wheezing and When to Be Concerned About Wheezing Symptoms

What is wheezing? Wheezing is a condition where the person whistles as they breeze. It occurs as a result of the airways to the lungs being narrowed. The whistling sound that is the most pronounced of all the wheezing symptoms is usually stronger when exhaling (breathing out) as compare to when inhaling (breathing in). Wheezing is only a serious health risk if it is accompanied by difficulty breathing because of severe airway constriction, and in these instances some type of interventive treatment will be required.

Most of the time wheezing will be more of a nuisance or a cause for being self-conscious, rather than a situation where you’re having difficulty breathing. As for the reasons for wheezing, there can be any number of reasons why you’re whistling while your breeze. We’ll look at all of them here, as well as the best ways for treating wheezing and getting yourself back to breathing normally.

Wheezing Symptoms

There’s really not much to add here in addition to what we’ve detailed above. Wheezing symptoms are exclusively a whistling-like sound as you breathe, and can be accompanied by causative symptoms like difficulty breathing or a feeling of tightness in the chest.

Reasons for Wheezing

The primary reasons for wheezing are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchospasms, and swelling of the lining of the airways. Bronchospasm is a term that describes the muscle within the lining of the airway contracting, and when it does the airway to the lungs is constricted. This narrowing of the length of the airway is what results in the whistling sound that is the primary characteristic of wheezing. Swelling of the airway linings can occur for any number of different reasons, but the most common ones are allergic reactions and infection. The most common condition related to this type of swelling is epiglottis

A less common reason for wheezing is excessive buildup of secretions (mucus most often) in the airways (rhonchi). Very uncommon ones are having a foreign object in the airway or an abnormal growth there. In the case of a foreign object the physical sensation that would come with it would prompt most people to quickly seek medical assistance. For abnormal growth like a cancerous tumor or otherwise, the inability of the individual to get relief from standard approaches would likely lead to them visiting their physician for a more exploratory look at the nature of their wheezing symptoms.

Wheezing Due to Infection or Illness

Wheezing can also be one of the symptoms that come with a common cold, or a respiratory ailment like bronchitis or whooping cough. If it does not clear along with your cold symptoms then you should see a physician.

In a worst-case scenario wheezing symptoms may be a result of anaphylaxis, which is when the body enters a state of shock due to a severe reaction to an allergen. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, and the immediate onset of severe symptoms nearly always prompts people to do so.


Stridor has symptoms that are similar to wheezing symptoms, but it is a different condition. It is characterized by harsh, noisy, squeaking sounds that occur with every breath. Stridor is often caused by something blocking your airway, but it can also result from a narrowed voice box, paralyzed vocal chord, unusual growth of blood vessels just below the vocal chords (hemangioma), or infections of the trachea.

Treatment for Wheezing

If your wheezing symptoms are resulting from your asthma, you need to take a maintenance approach to them. A fast-acting bronchodilator like a Ventolin Inhaler or bronchodilator / corticosteroid inhaler combo unit like Symbicort will often be all that’s necessary to expand constricted airways and provide sufferers with the relief they need.

Another option for treating wheezing is to take a long-acting anticholinergic medication containing tiotropium bromide like Spiriva. Taking one pill a day provides relief from respiratory difficulties for most people. When wheezing is a symptom of acute bronchitis then the same bronchodilators will usually be a similarly effective way to relieve wheezing.

Certain breathing exercises can be effective for reducing wheezing, as they promote the person having stronger lungs capable of dealing with restrictions in airflow. Yoga has many different breathing exercises that can work well here, and it’s not difficult to find them online with a quick search.