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Learn about your wheezing, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your wheezing from our A.I. Symptom Checker. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Your Wheezing May Also be Known as:
Laboured breathing
Loud breathing
Noisy breathing
Weezing
Wheeze
Wheezy

Top 9 Wheezing Causes

  1. 1.Asthma Attack

    An asthma attack is the sudden worsening of asthma caused by a trigger (e.g., exercise or cold air) or infection.

    Most importantly, take your asthma medication for these acute attacks. You should visit your primary care physician today for management of your attack. He/she may change your medication regiment and give you a course of steroids.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    shortness of breath, shortness of breath at rest, tight, heavy, squeezing chest pain, wheezing, cough with dry or watery sputum
    Symptoms that always occur with asthma attack:
    shortness of breath
    Symptoms that never occur with asthma attack:
    blue skin
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  2. 2.Bronchitis

    Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. It causes a cough that often brings up mucus, as well as shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. It is typically caused by a virus.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own by resting, drinking fluids and taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to alleviate fever and discomfort. If the condition lasts longer than a few weeks, or if your symptoms are worsening, you may want to see a doctor who may prescribe an inhaler or pursue other treatment options.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    cough, productive cough, sore throat, wheezing, coughing up green or yellow phlegm
    Symptoms that always occur with bronchitis:
    cough
    Symptoms that never occur with bronchitis:
    nausea or vomiting
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Right Heart Failure (Cor Pulmonale)

    Cor pulmonale is known as right heart failure and is often a long-term consequence of high blood pressure or COPD.

    You should visit the emergency room. It is likely a physical exam will be performed as well as blood tests.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, chest pain, wheezing, cough with dry or watery sputum, shortness of breath on exertion
    Symptoms that never occur with right heart failure (cor pulmonale):
    severe chest pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  4. 4.Severe Asthma Attack

    A severe asthma attack makes it incredibly hard to breathe and is a medical emergency. If possible, use a rescue inhaler ASAP.

    This is a serious issue so proceed to the closest emergency room for treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    being severely ill, wheezing, shortness of breath at rest, cough with dry or watery sputum, irritability
    Symptoms that always occur with severe asthma attack:
    shortness of breath at rest, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

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  5. 5.Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (Copd) Exacerbation

    A COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) exacerbation is a worsening of your COPD, causing you to struggle for breathe. This is often caused by an infection in the lungs.

    A COPD exacerbation requires urgent care. If you are having trouble breathing, go to the ER immediately. For less urgent cases, seeing the doctor the next day is very advised.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    shortness of breath, wheezing, productive cough, worsening cough, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  6. 6.Adult - Onset Asthma

    Asthma in adults is an under-diagnosed reason for a chronic cough. In general, asthma is caused by hyperactive inflammation of the lung's airways. This results in episodic dyspnea, coughing and wheezing which is triggered by for example exercise, cold air, pollen or dust.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss the diagnosis of adult-onset asthma, which requires a breathing test for confirmation. Upon diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan depending on your severity.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, wheezing, dry cough, shortness of breath at rest, shortness of breath on exertion
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Viral Pneumonia

    Viral pneumonia is inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the lungs due to infection with a virus. Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type, which is usually acquired in public areas such as at work, school, or grocery store.

    You should see a care provider to be treated and for evaluation of severity of your symptoms. Viral pneumonia is NOT treated with antibiotics, and you may find over-the-counter medications for pain and fever to be helpful.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite
    Symptoms that never occur with viral pneumonia:
    unexplained bruising
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Bacterial Pneumonia

    Bacterial pneumonia is the infection of the lungs with bacteria (as opposed to a fungus or a virus).

    You should go see a doctor within the next day since this diagnosis requires a chest X-ray in addition to a doctor's assessment. Treatment with antibiotics is important to keeping the infection under control, which can become dangerous if it spreads or worsens within the lungs.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, cough, headache, loss of appetite, shortness of breath
    Symptoms that always occur with bacterial pneumonia:
    cough
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  9. 9.Chronic Allergies

    Allergies are an overreaction by the immune system to something that does not bother most other people. Many people who have allergies are sensitive to pollen, but other things such as dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, and mold can also cause a reaction.

    Allergies are a benign (but annoying!) condition, that can cause symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. Treat by avoiding what you're allergic to, or with an over-the-counter medication such as loratidine (Claritin), or diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, irritability, trouble sleeping, runny nose, cough with dry or watery sputum
    Symptoms that never occur with chronic allergies:
    fever, chills, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Wheezing

  • Q.How long has your wheezing been going on?
  • Q.How severe is your wheezing?
  • Q.Is your cough constant or come-and-go?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our wheezing symptom checker.

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Wheezing Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced wheezing have also experienced:

    • 24% Cough
    • 5% Dry Cough
    • 5% Shortness of Breath
  • People who have experienced wheezing had symptoms persist for:

    • 39% Less Than a Week
    • 17% Less Than a Day
    • 14% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced wheezing were most often matched with:

    • 29% Bronchitis
    • 3% Asthma Attack
    • 2% Right Heart Failure (Cor Pulmonale)

Check my wheezing symptoms

Try our wheezing symptom checker to diagnose your current condition

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Check my wheezing symptoms

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having wheezing symptoms

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