Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound made while breathing. It's often associated with difficulty breathing. Wheezing may occur during breathing out (expiration) or breathing in (inspiration).
Inflammation and narrowing of the airway in any location, from your throat out into your lungs, can result in wheezing.
The most common causes of recurrent wheezing are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which both cause narrowing and spasms (bronchospasms) in the small airways of your lungs.
However, any inflammation in your throat or larger airways can cause wheezing. Common causes include infection, an allergic reaction or a physical obstruction, such as a tumor or a foreign object that's been inhaled.
All of the following conditions can lead to wheezing:
Mild wheezing that occurs along with symptoms of a cold or upper respiratory infection (URI), does not always need treatment.
See a doctor if you develop wheezing that is unexplained, keeps coming back (recurrent), or is accompanied by any of the following signs and symptoms:
Seek emergency care if wheezing:
In some cases, wheezing can be relieved by certain medications or use of an inhaler. In others, you might need emergency treatment.
To ease mild wheezing related to a cold or URI, try these tips: