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Wheezing -- Wheezing Is A Common Asthma Symptom for Adults

What You Need to Know (and Do) About Wheezing

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Updated June 19, 2010

Wheezing is one of the common asthma symptoms and is often the reason many people seek care. With wheezing you will hear a high-pitched whistle sound as you breathe through your mouth or nose. While most commonly heard as you exhale, or breathe out, wheezing may also occur when inhaling or breathing in. Wheezing results from the airways of the lungs narrowing as a result of inflammation, making it more difficult for air to flow through the lung.

The inflammatory response that is part of asthma is the reason this inflammation occurs. Not all wheezing is asthma since diseases like pneumonia, COPD, or certain vocal cord problems may lead to wheezing.

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What Does It Mean If I Hear Wheezing?

Do you ever hear this sound when breathing? This is what wheezing sounds like when a doctor listens to your chest with a stethoscope. Wheezing is never normal and should not be ignored. Wheezing is one of the classic symptoms associated with asthma. Based on your history and some or all of these other symptoms, your doctor may make a diagnosis of asthma:
  • Chronic cough, especially at night
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
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When Should I Contact A Doctor?

  1. If the wheezing is new
  2. If wheezing is not new, but getting worse

If your your wheezing is a new problem and you do not have a diagnosis of asthma, you should definitely see a doctor as many different things can cause wheezing.

When you visit the doctor, you will be asked many questions about your history, symptoms, and if the symptoms are associated with any of these triggers. Triggers are things that "set off" your asthma. You can learn how to identify and avoid these common triggers to help get better control of your asthma.

If you are already being treated for asthma and still wheezing significantly, your treatment may not be working or you may not be taking the treatment correctly. When your asthma is under good control, you should not wheeze. Improving communication with your doctor and asking for a health information prescription may help you gain the information and skills you need to get better control of your asthma.

If you use an Asthma Action Plan, make sure you follow the instructions for wheezing. If you don't have one, you need to make discussing one with your asthma doctor a priority.

Sources:

Medline Plus. Accessed May 4, 2009. Wheezing

Patient Information- University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed May 4, 2009. Wheezing

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