Wheezing is a coarse rattle or shrill whistle when the airway is blocked partially. It may be blocked because of an allergic reaction, allergies, cold, or bronchitis. Wheezing can be a symptom of heart failure, pneumonia, asthma, and more. It might go on its own or be a sign of a severe underlying condition. Read below as we discuss the causes, prevention, and tips on how to stop wheezing fast.
Causes of wheezing
Here are some of the leading causes of wheezing:
Asthma is the leading cause of wheezing. It involves narrowing or swelling of the airways to the lungs or the throat. It is a chronic condition, and in asthma, wheezing may be triggered by exposure to house dust, animals, mold, or pollen. Viral illness might also trigger it.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Typically, people with COPD are older, and breathlessness and wheezing are two common signs.
In addition, cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects the exocrine glands, can result in a fluid build-up in the lungs and cause wheezing. Bronchitis, an infection in the lungs’ airways, can also cause wheezing. Pneumonia infection in the lung tissues can also cause wheezing.
Vocal cord issues (VCD)
Often confused for asthma, VCD is a health condition wherein the vocal cords do not open properly. Some symptoms related to the issue are difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing.
You may not have asthma, but some allergies can make you feel breathless and cause wheezing. The symptoms you experience will depend on what you are allergic to, such as pet dander or pollen. Anaphylaxis, a severe and acute allergic reaction, might also cause wheezing.
Heart failure might also cause a breathless feeling or wheezing resulting from a fluid build-up in the lungs.
GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, chronic acid reflux is typically associated with asthma. It can aggravate asthma signs by irritating the lungs and airways. In addition, people with GERD and asthma might experience wheezing when GERD triggers.
Wheezing risk factors
Anyone can develop wheezing. But, some risk factors aggravate your chances of developing a wheeze. These include:
- Hereditary illnesses like asthma typically run in families.
- Toddlers with older siblings or in daycare (because of increased exposure to infections)
- People with lung cancer
- Allergens like pollen and pet dander
How to stop wheezing fast – Remedies and tips that work
Here are a few things one can do to prevent wheezing:
Drink a warm beverage
A hot drink can loosen the sticky mucus by relaxing the airways and easing wheezing signs.
Keep the air moist
Take a steamy, warm shower, use a humidifier, or sit in the bathroom with a closed door while running a hot shower to moisten the air. It can be a good remedy against wheezing.
Follow your doctor’s advice
Adhere to the treatment instructions recommended by your doctor for instant relief from wheezing.
Clean the air
A HEPA filter for cleaning the air can be an excellent remedy against wheezing. It will absorb the allergens in the air, primarily responsible for asthma attacks.
Do some breathing exercises
Breathing exercises can be a treatment for wheezing and can improve lung function. You can try the following:
- Belly breathing involves breathing through the nose. Place your hands on the belly and see how it expands. Now, breathe through your mouth for at least two to three times as long as you inhaled.
- Pursed-lip breathing involves breathing through the nose; in this, you breathe out for twice as long with your lips pursed.
When should you see a healthcare provider?
When the following symptoms appear, it would be best to visit a doctor for treatment.
- Wheezing is new
- You have multiple relapses in a short while.
- It is accompanied by multiple other signs like fever, rapid breathing, breathlessness, coughing, chest pain or tightness, rapid breathing, loss of voice, a bluish tinge around the nails, mouth, or skin, swelling on the tongue or lips, incomprehensible swelling of the legs or feet.
If any symptoms persist over time, checking with your healthcare provider will give you a correct diagnosis. And they will be able to devise a suitable treatment plan.