Wheezing

Wheezing is a whistling sound made when you breathe. It is caused by the narrowing of your airways and/or by inflammation in your airways. Wheezing is most often heard when you exhale, but in some cases, it can be heard when you inhale.

Wheezing may be a symptom of a serious illness that requires a medical diagnosis and subsequent treatment. In order to stop wheezing, it’s important to determine its cause.

For example, wheezing may be caused by a short term illness such as following:

  • Bronchitis
  • Allergic reactions
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory Tract Infections
  • Reaction to smoking

Wheezing may also be an indication of the following serious illnesses which require long-term care:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Heart failure
  • Lung cancer

Wheezing can happen to anyone. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing a wheeze. Controlling risk factors, such as smoking, may help improve wheezing. Avoid triggers, such as pollen and other allergens, if they make you wheeze. Some factors are out of your control, so the goal is to treat your symptoms to improve your overall quality of life.

Seek emergency medical care if you are wheezing while having difficulty catching your breath or experiencing hives and/or a swollen face or throat.

Treatment for wheezing has two goals:

  • First, airway inflammation must be controlled. Prescription anti-inflammatory medications can decrease inflammation and excess mucus in your airways. These typically come in the form of inhalers.
  • The second step is to open up your breathing tubes with quick-acting medications. Bronchodilators work by relaxing the smooth muscles that encircle your breathing tubes.

Your doctor might recommend both anti-inflammatory and quick-acting medications if the wheezing is related to a long-term illness, such as COPD or asthma.

Our Neighborhood Walk-In Clinic is:

  • Walk-in friendly
  • Open 7 days a week 8am-8pm
  • In-network for most Washington insurers
  • Open extended hours
  • Equipped with X-Ray and Lab on-site
  • Staffed by Doctors, Physician Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners