Asthma and Wheezing - Topic Overview
Wheezing is a whistling noise that occurs when the
bronchial tubes , which carry air to the lungs, narrow
mucus buildup. Wheezing is often present in
asthma attack, the bronchial tubes become smaller. At
first, the person may wheeze when breathing out. As the attack becomes worse,
the person may also wheeze when breathing in. During a severe asthma episode,
wheezing may go away because little air is moving through the narrowed
Wheezing is a sign of asthma in children, but it does not always mean
that a child has asthma. Children younger than 5 often develop wheezing during
a respiratory infection. Children with a family history of allergies seem to be
more likely than other children to have one or more episodes of wheezing with
colds. Children with certain viral infections, such as
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus (which
causes the common cold), and influenza virus, also are likely to develop
Wheezing also is more likely to occur in children who:
- Are male.
- Have smaller-than-normal
airways at birth and in early childhood.
- Are exposed to smoke
before and after birth.
- Have a low birth weight.
- Have a
parent, particularly a mother, who has allergies or asthma.