Lybrate Logo
Get the App
For Doctors
Book Appointment
Ask a Question
Plan my Surgery
Health Feed
Health Feed
Find Doctors

Wheezing: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Cost, and Side-effects

Last Updated: Jun 30, 2023

What Is Wheezing?

Topic Image

Asthma, or wheezing, is a condition that impacts all individuals including both adults and children. You breathe with a harsh, high-pitched sound if your airway is constricted. Because of inflammation and stiffening of the muscles surrounding the small airways, the airways in the lungs become narrow and cause a wheezing cough.

Asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness. These symptoms come and go, however, wheezing at night usually worsens in most cases.

Difference between wheeze and rhonchi?

The difference between rhonchi vs wheeze is important to understand. Wheezes are high-pitched sounds linked to airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Rhonchi, or musical weak sounds, are equal to snores, which usually appear to suggest respiratory mucus and are often vacated by coughing.

Difference between asthma and wheezing?

A wheeze is characterized by a high-pitched or sibilant rhonchus. Asthma is a diverse syndrome distinguished by varying, changeable airflow limitation and abnormally improved responsiveness of the airways to different stimuli.

It is critical for parents to recognize the distinction between stridor vs wheeze. Stridor is a high-pitched sound that can arise when a child breathes. It is less musical than wheezing. Stridor is usually caused by an obstruction or narrowing of the upper airway, which is located outside of the chest cavity.

Other common triggers can aggravate wheezing symptoms. Triggers vary by individual but can include viral infections, soot, smoke, car exhaust, weather change, pollen, animal fur and feathers, strong soaps, and fragrance.

Some wheezing is only audible using a stethoscope, but it is frequently heard with the human ear. Wheezing breath sounds are most noticeable when exhaling. The pitch of wheezing varies according to which section of the respiratory system is barred or constricted. A constriction of the upper respiratory tract can result in a hoarse wheeze.

Asthma wheezing is frequently misdiagnosed and undertreated, notably in low- and middle-income countries. Untreated asthma can cause problems in falling asleep, exhaustion throughout the day, and difficulty concentrating. Asthma sufferers and their households may miss classes and work, causing economic adversity for the community and the family as a whole. People with asthma could require urgent medical care if their symptoms are severe and should be admitted to a hospital for diagnosis and follow-up.

Types Of Wheezing

There are two main types of wheezing:

  • Inspiratory (when inhaling)
  • Expiratory (when you exhale)
  • Expiratory wheeze is easier to identify since your airways constrict more in this phase of breathing. Expiratory wheezing by itself frequently indicates a minor blockage of the airway.
  • When you inhale, you experience an inspiratory wheeze.


What Are The Symptoms Of Wheezing?

Signs of wheezing include a rhythmic or whistling sound and labored breathing, especially when breathing deeply. They are sometimes accompanied by a feeling of tightness in the chest. If you plug your ears and exhale quickly, you can hear wheezing more clearly, or you can listen to wheezing in lungs with a stethoscope. In case the symptoms worsen it is advisable to see your physician.

What Causes Wheezing

  • Many factors have been linked to an increased likelihood of developing wheezing, though finding single and direct wheezing causes can be difficult.
  • Other family members with asthma, particularly a close relative such as a parent or sibling, make wheezing more likely.
  • People with other allergic conditions, such as eczema and rhinitis, also called hay fever, are more likely to develop a wheezing problem.
  • Wheezing prevalence rises with urbanization, mostly because of the way of living.
  • Early life events have an impact on the developing lungs and can raise the likelihood of wheezing in children. Low birth weight, prematurity, cigarette smoke, and other pollutants in the air, as well as viral respiratory problems, are examples of these.
  • Environmental allergens and irritants such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, dust mites, molds, and exposure to chemicals, fumes, or dust are also thought to increase the risk of wheezing.
  • Overweight or obese individuals are more likely to develop a wheezing problem.

How To Prevent Wheezing

You cannot completely get rid of wheezing, but its causes and effect can be well taken care of. You can look at the points listed below that may assist you with the same.

Do’s and Don'ts


  • Stick to your medication: Taking your asthma medication as prescribed by your doctor makes you feel in control of your health.
  • Recognize Your Symptoms: Paying close attention to your early warning signs, such as shortness of breath or chest tightness, will allow you to take quick action, allowing you to stay on top of your asthma.
  • Keep your cool: If you have an attack, stay calm.
  • Stay away from your triggers: Know and avoid the triggers that cause your wheezing to flare up or worsen.


  • Avoid being near smoke: Wheezing attacks are exacerbated and made worse by smoking.
  • Continue to Exercise: Breathing exercise for wheezing makes a huge difference. Before participating in any workout, athletics, or other activities, consult with your doctor. Staying in shape will aid you in keeping healthy. Stop opening window frames in the summer and autumn months. During allergy season, avoid pollen completely and try to stay at home.

How is Wheezing Diagnosed?

Your doctor will most likely ask you a series of questions about the nature of your wheezing and whether you have any other symptoms. He or she will also conduct an examination on you. Following a doctor's examination, the most likely cause may be identified, and your doctor will advise you on what to do next. Tests may or may not be necessary.

Many people experience repeated bouts of wheezing when the cause is usually obvious. People suffering from asthma or COPD, for example. If the cause is unclear or you are critically ill, your doctor may refer you for one or more tests. The tests performed may differ depending on the suspected cause.

What Tests Are Done For Wheezing?

The tests that may be performed are as follows:

  • They can perform tests such as X-rays to obtain an image of your lungs.
  • Lung function tests are used to assess how well the lungs work.
  • A blood report to check your level of oxygen.

Home Remedies For Wheezing

The wheezing treatment listed below aims to open up the airways, reduce irritants or pollution in the air, or treat the underlying causes of wheezing. If a person has breathing problems or another medical illness that causes wheezing, they must consult their physician and use prescription medications, such as a nebulizer for wheezing. Although, in the long run, home remedies may not work and a surgical procedure may be needed.

Home remedies for wheezing that work include:

Warm liquids should be consumed.
If your wheezing symptoms are triggered by phlegm in your windpipe and you are looking for ways to control wheezing, drinking hot fluids may help. Sipping tea with different herbs or hot water can help break up any persistent mucus. To help with congestion, it is important to stay hydrated.

Breathe in moist air
Taking steam is equivalent to consuming hot fluids. It works well for congestion and helps to breathe better. If you are wondering how to stop wheezing without inhaler then taking steam is the best option. You could also try relaxing in a steam room. Just stay away from the dry, hot air of a sauna.

Honey has properties that help to keep infections at bay. Honey is one of the most efficient when it comes to home remedies for wheezing and chest congestion. It clears phlegm from the bronchial tubes and boosts overall immunity. To relieve wheezing, prepare a mixture of honey and cinnamon powder.

Quit smoking.
Smoking can also cause blocked airways, and we're not just talking about passive smoking. Secondhand smoke can also irritate the windpipe. According to a recent study, children who are subjected to second-hand smoke are more likely to experience asthma attacks and respiratory problems than the general population.

Raw onions
Wheezing remedies also include eating raw onions either by adding them to your meal or eating onions separately. The sulfur content of raw onions has an antimicrobial effect on your body, which aids in the fight against infections.

Massage with mustard oil
Mustard oil eases breathing and provides immediate relief from wheezing. Warm up some mustard oil with a piece of camphor in it. Camphor should be completely dissolved before massaging your chest for 15 minutes three times a day. This helps to improve blood circulation, clear the respiratory tract, make breathing easier, and be an effective wheezing cure.

Can Wheezing Be Cured On Its Own?

We often ask our physician questions like how to stop wheezing or how to cure wheezing permanently. Wheezing is a completely treatable condition. Indeed, for the vast majority of sufferers, control is so effective that it is equivalent to a cure. Controlling asthma requires controlling the inflammation in the airways and reversing symptoms before they worsen. However, medical tests and doctor consultations are very important to diagnose wheezing.

What To Eat?

Although there is no specific food or diet for wheezing that can improve wheezing symptoms, eating a well-balanced diet is an important part of your treatment plan. In general, the best asthma diet includes more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and magnesium.

Fruits and vegetables
Eating more fresh vegetables and fruits is a good first step if you want to enhance your regimen while living with wheezing. They contain vital nutrients that assist breathing in addition to being low in calories, which encourages a healthy weight. Studies have shown that dietary habits filled with fruits and vegetables, especially oranges and apples decrease the likelihood of developing asthma and wheezing.

Vitamin A
wheezing in children and adults may benefit from vitamin A, also known as carotenoids. According to surveys, eating certain foods high in vitamin A, such as tomatoes, carrots, and leafy green vegetables, can help babies with wheezing and adults with asthma attacks.Other Foods To Eat

Other essential foods to include in your regimen are as follows:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Cereal
  • Healthy fats like olive oil, seeds, and fatty fish.

What Not To Eat?

Specific foods and food-related substances should be prevented as they could worsen wheezing symptoms. It's also important to remember that food allergies and restrictions differ from person to person.

Gas-Producing Foods: Avoid beans, fizzy drinks, garlic cloves, onions, and unhealthy fats. The effect of these foods may worsen breathing problems. As a result, you may experience tightness in chest and breathlessness.

Sulfites: Sulfites are found in beverages such as wine, alcohol, and grape juice. In some people with asthma, these products can aggravate symptoms and cause adverse reactions.

Salicylates: Salicylates are chemicals found in tea, coffee, and spices. Wheezing problems may sometimes get triggered due to these foods, however, the possibility is rare.

Fast Food: Fast food should be avoided in general because it contains a lot of saturated fat, preservatives, and sodium. It can increase health hazards and worsen symptoms in people who have asthma.

How Is Wheezing Treated?

Wheezing treatment is ultimately determined by the underlying cause. If your wheezing is extreme, your doctor may instruct you to use a breathing apparatus and bronchodilators to clear your airways. In this case, they may suggest getting admitted in the hospital.

Your doctor will most likely prescribe:

  • A bronchodilator which is a drug that reduces inflammation and opens the airways.
  • Corticosteroids are inhaled to combat inflammation.
  • Preventing asthma and allergy symptoms with leukotriene receptor antagonists

The following medications will be prescribed by the doctor for bronchitis:

Should I Go To Urgent Care For Wheezing?

The diagnosis of wheezing is difficult based entirely on symptoms. There are no answers to questions like how to cure wheezing permanently, however, anyone experiencing wheezing should consult their doctor.

Individuals experiencing the symptoms mentioned below should consult their doctor as soon as possible:

  • Struggling with breathing
  • Unexpected wheezing
  • Additional symptoms, such as chest pain
  • Symptoms of anaphylaxis

If you have wheezing but can still breathe normally, you should wait a few days before seeing a doctor. If their wheezing worsens, they should see a doctor right away

Other possible explanations include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Cough
  • Chest constriction
  • Rapid breathing due to fever
  • Unknown cause of swelling in your feet or legs
  • Vocal cord damage
  • Lips or tongue enlargement
  • Pinkish red lips, nails, and even skin

What kind of physician do you see for wheezing?

If the reason for your wheezing is more complicated or severe, or if it becomes worse despite treatment, you may be referred to a pulmonologist, a doctor who specializes in breathing and lung health.

What is The Best Medicine For Wheezing?

Along with home remedies for asthma wheezing there are various options for wheezing cough treatment as well. Homeopathy medicine for wheezing is also available at your disposal. If the cause of your wheezing is an inflammatory reaction, your doctor will recommend steroids to minimize swelling and allow access to your air passages for easier breathing. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infection and its symptoms. If the wheezing gets worse, sooner or later some form of surgery may be suggested.

Surgical Treatment For Asthma And Wheezing

In extreme cases of asthma that cannot be managed with treatments, bronchial thermoplasty may be an option. Heat is applied to the smooth muscle to shrink it, attempting to prevent it from stiffening and causing asthma symptoms.The treatment consists of three sessions, each separated by three weeks. Bronchial thermoplasty is a new and unproven therapy. The benefits are less and may not be worth the risks for many people. It is the complete discretion of your doctor whether or not to opt for this treatment.

The doctors at Pristyn Care will walk you through the details of your treatment and answer all your questions.

What Is The Procedure For Wheezing Treatment

There are 3 stages of Bronchial Thermoplasty:

Before The Procedure
You will be prescribed an oral steroid by your doctor.This medication will be administered two days prior to the procedure, on the day of the procedure, and for two days afterwards. The steroid reduces lung swelling.

During The Procedure
During bronchial thermoplasty, you will be sedated. You could be sleeping and remain perfectly still. You could also have milder anesthesia. You won't remember much of the treatment if anything at all.Your doctor will pass a thin, agile tube called a bronchoscope via your nose or mouth and down into your lungs. The bronchoscope is then used to insert a catheter (a thin tube) into your lungs.

After The Procedure

Following the treatment, you will be kept under observation to check side effects if any. Your asthma will not be healed by bronchial thermoplasty. After the procedure, you will still be required to take asthma medication to help control your symptoms.

What Is The Prize Of Bronchial Thermoplasty In India

Bronchial thermoplasty is a costly procedure that can cost close to Rs 10 lakh INR.

How long does it take to recover from bronchial thermoplasty?

The procedure itself may cause pulmonary irritation for a few days. During this time, you may encounter asthma-like cough and shortness of breath. Your doctor will offer efficient advice on the treatment of the disease.

Are The Results Of The Treatment Permanent?

Before starting a treatment our most common question to the doctor is how to cure wheezing permanently. Long-term advancements in symptoms and quality of life in general have been reported by some individuals. Healthcare professionals are uncertain of the long-term results since this treatment is new.

What Are The Side- effects Of The Treatment?

Doctors are still learning about all of the potential long-term risks.

Short-term side effects can be as follows:

  • coughing blood.
  • Infections of the lungs.
  • Asthma symptoms becoming worse.

Outlook/ Prognosis

Wheezing occurs when your airways narrow as a result of an illness, irritation, or underlying condition. If you're wheezing, it's critical to consult with your doctor because it could indicate a breathing problem.

Popular Questions & Answers

View All

I am 52 years old male and asthma little and I ...


Dr. Ankit Sharma


If you have symptoms like recurrent cough and cold breathing difficulty on exertion or season cha...

Hello, I had septoplasty and adenoidectomy (no ...


Dr. Ankit Sharma


Despite surgery you can have mucus production from the sinuses or lung per se, it could be a symp...

Hello doctor my son son 3 years 5 months old wa...


Dr. Jaspreet Singh Khandpur


You can't stop inhalers for adult or child if they have breathlessness asthma allergy etc. Do abs...

I'm having bronchitis from last 10 days. I take...


Dr. Jaspreet Singh Khandpur


First check whether it's asthma do pft start mdi and tabs if wheezing is much more get admitted f...

I am 24 male. I am having cough and cold from l...


Dr. Sreenivas C

ENT Specialist

Hi Mr. lybrate-user you are most probably having a post infectious respiratory tract inflammatory...

Table of content

Content Details
Profile Image
Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
Reviewed By
Profile Image
Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
Need more help 

15+ Years of Surgical Experience

All Insurances Accepted

EMI Facility Available at 0% Rate

Find Pulmonologist near me


Ask a free question

Get FREE multiple opinions from Doctors

posted anonymously

Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice