The wheeze or Wheezing is a whistle that can be heard breathing. This sound develops as the air moves through the narrow airways and is most noticeable when exhaled, although it can also be heard when inhaled. Sometimes it can produce a kind of whistle when your nose is congested too. This usually happens when you have a cold or a nasal allergy. But unlike wheezing it will not be as clear as in this case. Rinsing the nostrils with saline water can make the sound disappear. Typically, wheezing points to deeper respiratory problems. Let’s take a look at some conditions that can cause it:
What Causes Wheezing?
Asthma causes the airways in your lungs to swell and the muscles around the airways to tense. This causes the airways to narrow, which makes it difficult for air to pass. In susceptible people, asthma can be triggered by many factors such as dust mites, dandruff, and medications such as aspirin, mold, pollen, cigarette smoke, chemicals, cold weather, and respiratory infections such as the common cold, stress and exercise. Apart from wheezing, people with asthma may also have symptoms such as shortness of breath that worsens with activity or exercise, cough, with or without phlegm, a feeling of tightness in the chest, etc. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms such as confusion or drowsiness, severe respiratory problems, sweating, rapid heartbeat, severe anxiety because it is hard to breathe or check for a bluish tinge on the skin.
What to do: Your doctor will work with you in creating a written asthma action plan that will detail things like instructions for taking medications, their triggers and how you can avoid them, etc. It can prescribe medications that when taken every day can be useful in preventing attacks, as well as medications that can bring relief when you have an attack.
2. Cardiac Asthma:
The cardiac asthma is a condition caused by the accumulation of fluid on the left side of the heart. This can cause asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and cough. However, unlike asthma, this fluid backing is indicative of a congenital heart defect, a leaking valve or a weakly pumping heart and points to heart failure.
What to do: Your doctor will advise a treatment that may include medications to remove excess fluid and control blood pressure, as well as changes in your diet. Surgery may also be necessary in some cases.
3. Inhalation of a Foreign Object:
If a foreign object is inhaled in the nose or airways, it can get stuck and make breathing difficult. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 are more likely to inhale foreign objects. Examples of things that can be inhaled include foods such as nuts and seeds, and other small objects such as buttons, beads and marbles.
“This can cause suffocation, cough and wheezing. It can also cause infection and inflammation”.
What to do: If your child has trouble breathing, the airways may have been completely blocked and may need immediate medical attention. And if symptoms such as suffocation and cough have disappeared, watch for signs of infection.
When the small airways in the lungs become inflamed and mucus builds up, you have a condition known as bronchiolitis. This condition usually develops due to a viral infection. And the virus known as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common culprit. Other viruses that can cause bronchiolitis are influenza, adenovirus and parainfluenza. The infection spreads when it comes into contact with fluids from the throat or nose of an infected person. For example, inhaling respiratory droplets when someone sneezes near you, or touching an object such as a toy that has been contaminated by the respiratory droplets of an infected person. As usual, Other symptoms of bronchiolitis include cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, etc. Seek emergency medical attention if your child has bluish skin, difficulty breathing, begins to breathe quickly, is extremely tired, or if the nostrils or chest seem to sink when he tries to breathe.
What to do: It is usually easier to breathe on the third day and the condition should resolve in about a week. Meanwhile, drink plenty of fluids and get some rest. Using a humidifier can help loosen mucus.
Bronchiectasis is a condition in which the large airways of the lungs widen. This damage to your airways is often due to a repetitive infection or inflammation in your airways. Sometimes you can start in your childhood after a severe lung infection or after inhaling food or a foreign object. Medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes the accumulation of thick mucus in the chest, allergic lung disorders, leukemia and autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause bronchiectasis. In addition to wheezing, people with this condition experience symptoms such as chronic cough, smelly sputum, bad breath, shortness of breath that worsens with exercise, night sweats, low fever, weight loss and fatigue. They can even spit blood.
What to do: The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for infection, bronchodilators to open the airways and expectorants to eliminate phlegm. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove a part of the lungs.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. Bacteria are the most common culprits in adults, particularly those known as Streptococcus pneumoniae, although other bacteria may also be responsible. Common viruses such as those that cause the flu can also cause pneumonia. Meanwhile, a fungus known as Pneumocystis jiroveciIt can cause pneumonia in people whose immune system has been compromised. You can get pneumonia when germs from the nose, mouth, or sinuses spread to the lungs, you inhale germs into the lungs or inhale vomits, food, or liquids from the mouth to the lungs. Conditions such as lung diseases, brain disorders such as dementia or stroke, a compromised immune system, heart disease, diabetes, etc. They can increase the risk of pneumonia. Pneumonia can also cause symptoms such as cough with or without mucus, fever, sweating, chills, shortness of breath that worsens with activity, chest pain, loss of appetite, etc. A sense of confusion can also be experienced particularly by older people.
What to do: The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria. You will also need to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
7. Acute Bronchitis:
Inflammation and swelling in the main airways that carry air to the lungs is known as bronchitis and can cause wheezing. You almost always get it after a flu or a cold. The virus first infects the sinuses, nose and throat and then spreads to the airways that lead to the lungs. Although it is more uncommon, bacteria can also cause this infection. Chest discomfort, cough with mucus, shortness of breath that worsens with activity, low fever and fatigue are other signs that indicate acute bronchitis. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between pneumonia and bronchitis. But people with pneumonia are more likely to get chills and high fever.
What to do: The condition should resolve on its own in about a week. Meanwhile, get plenty of rest and make sure you don’t get dehydrated.
8. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease:
The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes breathing difficult. This can happen because the walls of your air sacs or the walls between the air sacs are damaged (a condition known as emphysema), or the lining of your airways is constantly irritated leading to the formation of thick mucus (a known condition like chronic bronchitis), or both. Smoking is considered to be the leading cause of COPD. Long-term exposure to other things that can irritate your lungs such as chemical vapors, air pollution, etc. It can also cause COPD. In some cases, people who have a genetic deficiency of a protein known as alpha-1 antitrypsin may also develop this condition. COPD is usually seen in middle-aged or elderly people. Other symptoms that indicate COPD include cough with or without phlegm, shortness of breath that worsens with activity and fatigue.
What to do: COPD causes permanent damage to the lungs; however, there are some measures that can prevent this condition from getting worse and help relieve symptoms. The doctor may prescribe medications and inhalers that can help you breathe better. Pulmonary rehabilitation exercises can also be useful to teach you to breathe better.
9. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the stomach contents recede from the stomach to the alimentary canal that connects the mouth to the stomach. This causes irritation in your feeding tube. This condition develops when the muscles (known as the lower esophageal sphincter) in the lower part of the esophagus do not close properly allowing the stomach contents to seep back into the sphincter. Some factors that increase the risk of this condition include alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, pregnancy, as well as medical conditions such as a hiatal hernia in which a part of the stomach moves to the lower part of the chest and scleroderma in which the connective tissue of the body grows abnormally. Some medications used for diseases such as high blood pressure, insomnia, asthma, etc. can also cause GERD. Your doctor will let you know if this is a side effect of any medication you are using. Other symptoms of these conditions include heartburn, a feeling that the food is stuck behind the ribs, nausea after eating, trouble swallowing, cough, sore throat, hoarse voice, etc. Symptoms may get worse at bedtime, after eating or at night.
What to do: Measures such as weight control, eating smaller meals and avoiding foods that can trigger symptoms can be helpful. Antacids, as well as stronger prescription medications, can also relieve symptoms. In some cases, the doctor may recommend surgery that can prevent stomach acid from leaking into the feeding tube.
10. Insect Bites and Medications:
Insect bites that cause an allergic reaction are likely to cause wheezing. Wheezing can also be a side effect of certain medications such as aspirin. Check with your doctor if any medication you are taking may be responsible for causing you to wheeze.
What to do: If you begin to wheeze or experience other symptoms such as nausea, rapid heart rate, dizziness, trouble swallowing or confusion after an insect bite, seek immediate medical help as you may be experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Wheezing that occurs immediately after taking a new medication also needs urgent medical attention.
When Should You See a Doctor?
It is a good idea to see a doctor when you have wheezing for the first time. Because many of the symptoms of the conditions that can cause wheezing can overlap, you may need the help of a medical professional to find out what is causing them, so that you can take appropriate measures. The doctor can hear the sounds made while you breathe or have tests such as an x-ray or a lung function test. Seek emergency help if you also have trouble breathing.