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Wheezing happens when air flows through a narrowed airway. Wheezing can happen when you breathe in, breathe out, or both. Wheezes may sound like a whistle, squeal, groan, or creak. Wheezes may also sound musical or high-pitched. Wheezing cannot be stopped by coughing. Asthma, allergies, or infection are the most common causes of wheezing. A foreign body, asthma, extra mucus, or smoking can also cause wheezing.


Call 911 if:

  • You have sudden trouble breathing.
  • Your throat feels like it is swelling or feels tight.
  • You are dizzy, lightheaded, confused, or feel faint.
  • You have chest pain or tightness.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You are coughing up blood.
  • You have chest pain.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your wheezing does not get better or it gets worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines decrease inflammation, open airways, and make it easier to breathe.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may be referred to a specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Avoid allergy triggers , such as animals, grass, pollen, or dust.
  • Return to your usual activity as directed. You may need to limit certain activities until you follow up with your healthcare provider or your symptoms improve. Your child may need to avoid sports until his symptoms improve.
  • Take deep breaths and cough several times a day. This will decrease your risk for a lung infection and help decrease wheezing. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to thin your mucus and prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.