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Wheezing

Wheezing is a whistling noise of varying pitch and loudness that occurs when the small airways of the lungs become narrower because of inflammation or a buildup of mucus and dead cells in the airway. As these small air passages become narrower, wheezing may be heard when the person breathes out. As the passages continue to narrow, wheezing may be heard when the person breathes both in and out.

When a person has severe difficulty breathing, wheezing may no longer be heard because very little air is moving through the narrowed airways.

A doctor may order a chest X-ray or breathing test (spirometry) to determine the cause of a person's wheezing. Some causes of wheezing include bronchitis, allergies, or asthma. Treatment depends on the cause of the wheezing and may include medicines, an inhaler, or a machine to help a person breathe.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerLora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology

Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.