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Alphabetical Disease Lookup

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Wheezing

 

Many people with respiratory allergies know that causes wheezing almost always come with the arrival of hay fever season. Mild wheezing may also accompany respiratory infections such as acute bronchitis and may be experienced by patients in heart failure and by some with emphysema. But the characteristic whistling sound of wheezing is a primary symptom of the chronic respiratory disease asthma.

A variety of conventional and alternative remedies can alleviate wheezing. Regular monitor bya physician is required if you have asthma, severe allergies, chronic bronchitis, emphysema. It is often worthwhile to be evaluated at least once by a lung specialist (allergist or pulmonologist).

Symptoms

A musical or whistling sound and labored breathing, particularly when exhaling; sometimes accompanied by a feeling of tightening in the chest.

In advanced state:
Wheezing is accompanied by a fever of 101 F or above. You may have an upper respiratory infection such as acute bronchitis.
Breathing is so difficult that you feel that you are suffocating. This can be a sign of a severe asthma episode or an allergic reaction; get emergency medical help immediately.
You wheeze most days and cough up greenish or gray phlegm. You may have chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
You begin wheezing suddenly and cough up frothy pink or white phlegm. This may be a sign of heart disease; get emergency medical help immediately.
You cough up bloody phlegm, this could be a sign of pulmonary embolism.


Causes

The whistling sound that characterizes wheezing occurs when air moves through airways that are narrowed,much like the way whistle or flute make music. In asthma, this airway narrowing is due to inflammation and spasms of the muscles in the wall of the airways.

In some people, wheezing is the result of asthma or allergic reactions to pollen, chemicals, pet dander, dust, foods or insect stings. People with acute or chronic bronchitis also produce excess mucus in the respiratory tract, which can cause the lungs passageways to become blocked. Wheezing may also less commonly be caused by cystic fibrosis, obstruction from a foreign body which has been inhaled such as a coin, a tumor in the lungs, congestive heart failure (usually in older adults), or a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot which has moved from the legs to the lungs).

Treatment

Medications will help to open up narrowed airways can be used in many cases to help stop the wheezing and make breathing easier. Examples of these medications include albuterol and ipratropium. In severe cases of wheezing when the person cannot breathe effectively, a ventilator or artificial breathing machine may be needed.

Treatment is then directed at the cause, when possible. For instance, antibiotics can be used to treat pneumonia. Medications can be used to control heartburn. Medications to reduce inflammation are often helpful in asthma, sarcoidosis, and COPD. Surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy may be needed to treat a tumor or cancer.

If your wheezing is caused by asthma, your doctor will probably prescribe bronchodilators, drugs that help dilate the constricted airways, and inhaled steroids to reduce inflammation. If you have allergies, your doctor will almost certainly prescribe antihistamines, drugs that counteract the allergy-producing chemicals in your body.

If you have acute bronchitis, your doctor will probably prescribe a bronchodilator to help ease the wheezing as the infection clears. If you have an underlying lung problem, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics. Generally, any mild wheezing that accompanies acute bronchitis disappears when the infection does. In cases of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, your doctor may prescribe an expectorant to clear excess mucus, antibiotics, and/or a bronchodilator.

 

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Wheezing

 
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