What Causes Wheezing

The Truth about What Causes Wheezing

For the question, “What causes wheezing”, the truth is that several things could be the problem.  No matter the cause, the sound of wheezing is a clear indicator that breathing has become strained to some degree.  The actual sound of wheezing is the result of the smaller breathing tubes in the chest called bronchioles becoming blocked but there are times when the larger airway is affected.  In this article, we wanted to offer some suggestions for what causes wheezing and when it would be important to seek medical attention.

One of the many things to consider for what causes wheezing is inflammation.  If a person were having a severe allergic reaction to food, the environment, chemicals, smoke, etc, inflammation could develop.  When this happens, proper airflow is limited or restricted, which in turn causes the wheezing noise.  Now, in severe cases such as Anaphylaxis, which involves a dangerous allergic reaction from medication or an insect bite, the sound of wheezing would be a sign of needing immediate, life-threatening assistance.

Inflammation could also be the result of Asthma, a disease that millions of people suffer with daily.  Numerous things can trigger an asthma attack and if the individual were taking appropriate medication to control the symptoms, chances are good nothing more than wheezing would develop.  However, with or without medication, a minor asthma attack could turn dangerous very quickly.  Therefore, anyone with this illness should learn about triggers, the appropriate methods for controlling the disease, and when to seek medical help.

When talking about what causes wheezing, other things associated with inflammation would include Bronchiolitis, especially in smaller children, COPD, Emphich Inysema, Epiglottitis or swelling of the windpipe, sleep apnea, pneumonia, Respiratory syncytial virus, and even smoking.  While most of these causes are relatively minor, wheezing from these and similar conditions could be serious.  For instance, wheezing could be a sign of lung cancer or heart failure.

Along with inflammation, what causes wheezing could also have to do with an obstruction.  In small children, there are times when tiny items are placed in the mouth and if partially swallowed, they can obstruct the airway.  Obviously, a situation such as this is a matter of life and death so a parent should call 911.  If the item in the throat were to lodge in a certain way or at a certain area of the throat, the airway would be blocked off completely at which time the situation is dire.

Wheezing would also be seen in someone eating dinner that chokes on food.  If the food particle lodged only partway down the throat, the individual may still have the ability to breath but with the obstruction, wheezing would be heard.  Coughing the food up or having someone perform the Heimlich maneuver typically works but if the obstruction was not dislodged from the throat or if the airway becomes fully blocked, again immediate medical help would be needed as a life-saving decision.

In most cases, wheezing is nothing more than an irritation in the throat or airway but of course, if someone has wheezing that continues or worsens for any reason, seeing a doctor would be the best option.  That way, the exact cause of the wheezing could be identified and the problem corrected without it becoming worse.