To determine the cause of your wheezing, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and what triggers them. For example, if you have no history of lung disease and you always wheeze after eating a certain food or at a certain time of year, the doctor may suspect that you have a food or respiratory allergy.
The doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to hear where the wheezing is and how much wheezing you have.
There are usually reasons or risk factors that predispose you to asthma and respiratory problems. Asthma can happen to anyone without any risk factors, but it is less likely if there are no risk factors present.
Let's look at some asthma risk factors and see how they increase the chance that a person will have the asthma symptoms of cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath associated with the disease. After determining your personal risk factors for asthma, decide on the ones you can control and...
A long-acting bronchodilator/corticosteroid combination -- fluticasone/salmeterol (Advair), budesonide/formoterol (Symbicort)
An asthma controller pill to reduce airway inflammation -- zafirlukast (Accolate), montelukast (Singulair)
A non-sedating antihistamine pill -- loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), fexofenadine (Allegra), cetirizine (Zyrtec) or a prescription nasal spray -- fluticasone propionate (Flonase), triamcinolone acetonide (Nasacort AQ), mometasone furoate (Nasonex) -- if you have nasal allergies. Flonase and Nasacort are also available over the counter.
If you have acute bronchitis, your doctor may recommend some or all of the following:
A bronchodilator -- albuterol (Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA), levalbuterol, (Xopenex) -- to help ease the wheezing as the infection clears.
An antibiotic is usually not needed unless you have an underlying chronic lung problem or your doctor suspects a bacterial infection may be present.
Generally, any mild wheezing that accompanies acute bronchitis disappears when the infection does.
Call 911 if you have any difficulty breathing. In emergencies, a medical team may administer any of the following:
A shot of epinephrine to open clogged respiratory passages
A corticosteroid (such as methylprednisolone or prednisone)
Frequent or continuous nebulizer (breathing) treatments