Wheezing

Wheezing

What is wheezing?

Wheezing refers to the tightening of the throat that leads to problematic breathing. The people who suffer from wheezing are usually patients of one or another kind of respiratory disorders or diseases. Due to a tightened throat, the patients suffering from the problem of wheezing make whistling sounds with every breath. It also causes shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing. The throat tightening can happen due to inflammation or blockage of the airways, which can be a result of various disorders that are mentioned ahead.

What causes wheezing?

There are several reasons for wheezing, and they are classified into two depending on their causes. The first type is mild wheezing, which is not a very serious condition and can be caused by either cold or upper respiratory infections1. This kind of wheezing is not dangerous and can be easily and quickly treated. However, if the wheezing is recurrent and intense, it is recommended to see a doctor.

Intense wheezing, which is the other kind of wheezing, can be dangerous if not treated at the right time. It can be caused due to the following conditions:

  • Emphysema: It is a condition in which the lungs are filled with an abnormal quantity of air, hence causing enlargement of the lungs which result in damage.
  • Asthma: Asthma is the shortness of breath due to attacks of spasm in the bronchi of the lungs.
  • Breathing in an object that shouldn’t be breathed into the airways connected to the lungs also causes wheezing. Wheezing usually occurs due to this reason in small children because they often tend to breathe in unwanted objects.
  • Bronchiectasis: It is a condition in which the large airways of the lungs are damaged and widened.
  • Bronchiolitis: It is the condition of swollen and mucus-filled small air passages in the lungs.
  • Bronchitis: It is the condition of swollen and mucus-filled main passages that carry air to the lungs.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Acid reflux disease: Acid reflux refers to the condition in which heart burns and pain are witnessed by the patients.
  • Heart failure (cardiac asthma)
  • Insect sting that causes an allergic reaction
  • Certain medicines (particularly aspirin)
  • Infection of the lungs (pneumonia)
  • Smoking
  • Viral infection, which is especially dangerous in infants younger than age 2.

Signs & Symptoms of Wheezing

There are several wheezing symptoms that can raise an alarm for the patient. When encountering the wheezing symptoms mentioned below, it is recommended that you immediately go to a doctor and start your treatment as soon as possible, because in some cases, it can prove to be fatal too.

The most common wheezing symptoms that one can use for identification of wheezing are difficulty in breathing, irregular breathing patterns that may include rapid breathing and shortness of breath too, tightness in the chest, and a bluish tint to the color of the skin.

Wheezing as a symptom:

Wheezing has some symptoms that indicate a problem in breathing, which are mentioned above. However, wheezing itself is a symptom too. It is a symptom of all the diseases that might be the underlying cause of wheezing. The diseases that wheezing is a symptom of are:

  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis2
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Heart failure (cardiac asthma)
  • Viral infections

Treatment of wheezing:

The appropriate treatment of wheezing is the treatment of the condition due to which it is caused. Because wheezing itself is a symptom of some conditions, the best way to get rid of it is to treat the condition which has caused it. Some conditions that cause wheezing are treatable, and others are not. The untreatable conditions that cause wheezing are merely controllable and/or preventable.

However, there are some remedies that can reduce wheezing to a great extent or even cure it. But with those remedies, it cannot be said for sure that they would cure the reasons for wheezing too. Since they are the remedies which are used as a treatment for wheezing, they shall (mostly) cure wheezing only, and you’ll have to go for other remedies to treat the condition itself. Some of the remedies that are easy and applicable are given below:

  1. Steam inhalation

Steam inhalation can be an effective way of curing wheezing. Its method includes inhaling the steam coming out of hot water in which menthol, peppermint essential oil, and eucalyptus oil can be added to make the steam more effective. Using these natural ingredients can speed up the recovery process.

  1. Hot drinks

Hot drinks mixed with a tablespoon of honey can reduce inflammation which will reduce wheezing caused to due inflamed airways.

  1. Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises can also reduce wheezing caused due to COPD.

  1. Humidifiers

Use of humidifiers can also prevent wheezing because it is worsened by dry air.

  1. Air filters

Unfiltered or polluted air can lead to worsening of wheezing or may become the cause of it in the first place. So, cleaner air can help reduce wheezing. Keeping the triggers of wheezing away can help magnanimously. It is mandatory to figure out which things trigger wheezing, so you can stay away from those as well as the condition of wheezing.

  1. Allergy medications

Since wheezing is also caused due to certain allergies or viral infections, the medication for such allergies can help reduce wheezing as well.

  1. Allergy immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a therapy of the immune system which makes the immune system immune to allergens. The most common form of immunotherapy is allergy shots. Make sure you explain your condition to the doctor without missing anything to ensure you get the right shots. 

  1. Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are medications used to relax the lungs and stop the narrowing of the airways.

References:

  1. Healthline - Acute Upper Respiratory Infection
  2. NHS - Bronchiectasis
IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.

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