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Wheezing - Wheezing Is Common Asthma Symptom for Kids

Learn What You Need to Know and Do About Your Child's Wheezing


Updated June 09, 2014

Wheezing is one of the common childhood asthma symptoms and is often the reason many parents seek care for their kids. You will hear a high-pitched whistle sound as your child breathes through their mouth or nose. While most commonly heard while breathing out, wheezing may also occur when inhaling. Wheezing occurs because of the lungs narrowing as a result of inflammation, making it more difficult for air to flow through the lungs.

However, not all wheezing is necessarily because of asthma and a number of other non-asthma conditions, such as a foreign body in the lung (e.g. coin or small toy), secondhand smoke, or GERD, are common causes of wheezing in kids.

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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 child's chest with a stethoscope. Wheezing is never normal and should not be ignored. Wheezing is one of the classic symptoms associated with asthma in children. After taking a clinical history your doctor may make a diagnosis of asthma if your child also has these symptoms:
  • 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 child's wheezing is a new problem and your child does not have a diagnosis of asthma, your child 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 child's history, symptoms, and if the symptoms are associated with any of these triggers. Triggers are things that "set off" your child's asthma. You can learn how to identify and avoid these common triggers to help get better control of your child's asthma.

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

If your child uses 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 child's asthma doctor a priority.


Medline Plus. Accessed May 4, 2009. Wheezing

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

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