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Wheezing


Definition:

Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound during breathing. It occurs when air moves through narrowed breathing tubes in the lungs.

Alternative Names:

Sibilant rhonchi

Causes:

Causes of wheezing may include any of the following:

Home Care:

Take all of your medications as directed.

Sitting in an area where there is moist, heated air may help relieve some symptoms. This can be done by running a hot shower or using a vaporizer.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if wheezing:

If wheezing is severe or occurs with severe shortness of breath, you may have to go directly to the nearest emergency department.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit:

The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history and symptoms. Questions about your wheezing may include when it started, how long it has lasted, when it is worse, and what might have caused it.

The physical examination may include listening to the lung sounds (auscultation). If your child is the one with symptoms, the doctor will make sure he or she did not swallow a foreign object.

Tests that may be done include:

A hospital stay may be needed if:

  • Breathing is particularly difficult
  • Medicines need to be given through a vein (IV)
  • Supplemental oxygen is required
  • The person needs to be closely watched by medical personnel
References:

Lugogo N, Que LG, Fertel D, Kraft M. Asthma. In: Mason RJ, Murray JF, Broaddus VC, et al., eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 38.

Schraufnagel DE, Murray JF. History and physical examination. In: Mason RJ, Murray JF, Broaddus VC, et al., eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 17.


Review Date: 5/14/2014
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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