How to manage wheezing

Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound while inhaling or exhaling which is a symptom of an illness or other conditions. Wheezing can be caused by respiratory conditions such as lessened flow of air due to a narrow airways or congestion in the lungs. If there is difficulty breathing, there is a need to seek medical help immediately.

Causes of wheezing

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Anaphylaxis
    Wheezing

    Musical or whistling sound and labored breathing especially when exhaling.

  • Heart failure
  • Epiglottitis
  • Childhood asthma
  • Bronchitis and bronchiolitis in young children
  • GERD
  • Strained or pulled abdominal muscle
  • Sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Dysfunction of the vocal cord

Symptoms

  • Musical or whistling sound and labored breathing especially when exhaling
  • Chest tightness
  • Stridor can be heard when inhaling due to narrowing of the windpipe or vocal cords in the neck.

Treatment

  • Keep the environment clean and remove irritants from the air. Keep air in the living and working environment clean as possible.
  • Use the prescribed fast-acting bronchodilator inhaler to dilate the constricted airways to lessen wheezing.
  • Take the prescribed asthma controller tablet to lessen the inflammation of the airways. A non-sedating antihistamine or nasal spray can be used if suffering from nasal allergies.
  • Vacuum the home regularly especially when there are pets around the house. Clean and change filters in the cooling and heating system and use hypoallergenic filters to eliminate respiratory irritants. Install a small air purifier inside the house and avoid smoking.
  • Wear scarves during cold weather to prevent the lungs and airways from becoming tense that can worsen the condition.
  • Inhale steam from a hot shower or run a vaporizer in the room. The steam relaxes the tense airways and the moisture thins out the mucus.
  • Apply a warm compress on the chest and upper back to relax the muscles and lessen the symptoms of wheezing. Place a hot towel on the chest, upper back, neck and shoulders for at least 10 minutes and repeat every 30 minutes to lessen the symptoms.
  • Perform regular exercises such as walking for at least 30 minutes every day to strengthen the lungs. Avoid vigorous exercises since it can cause severe wheezing and worsen the condition.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking 10-12 glasses of water every day to thin out the mucus and lessen clogging of the airways.

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