Wheezing is a high intense harsh hooting sound that happens when a person is breathing. The causes of wheezing varies from chronic conditions like asthma to a more serious condition like heart failure. Most of the time wheeze is heard with a stethoscope but it can be also heard with a naked ear.

Wheezing occurs when the airways are constricted, blocked or inflamed. However, it is mostly caused by the blockage of the small bronchial tubes in the chest cavity and also due to the obstruction in the vocal cord. Wheezing is most prominently heard when an individual is exhaling.

wheezing in children

Children, adults and elderly adults may develop wheezing and it is more prone among children with asthmatic conditions. However,20-25% of infants develop wheezing in the first year of life as the infants have smaller airways.

Children are more prone to develop bronchiolitis caused by a viral respiratory infection which causes wheezing.

Adults, smokers, and individuals with lung disorders and heart failure are more prone to develop wheezing.

Causative Factors For Wheezing

1. Asthma

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that leads to narrowing of the airway due to inflammation, excess mucus, swelling in the bronchial tubes and muscle spasms in the airway passage. In an individual with asthma, wheezing occurs as the airway narrows and swell making it difficult to breatheAlso Read: World Asthma Day: 5 Ways To Manage Asthma In Summer

2. Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a condition that results in inflammation and swelling in the lining of the lungs. This condition may cause difficulty in breathing and wheezing in children who don’t have asthma.

3. Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is a lower lung infection that develops in younger children. The viruses lead to inflammation in the bronchiole’s smaller airways. This results in a complete or partial blockage of airways that causes wheezing.

4. Emphysema

Emphysema is a lung disorder that causes shortness of breath. In people with emphysema, the walls of the air sacs are damaged and it loses natural stretchiness and air sacs are separated. This results in the airways to be obstructed and blocked that causes wheezing.

5. Heart Failure

Heart failure results in fluid buildup in the lungs and in and around the airways. This results in severe discomfort, shortness of breath, persistent coughing and wheezing.

6. Pneumonia

Respiratory infections in the alveoli of the lungs with high temperature and severe cough with green or yellow or blood-tinged mucus is a more serious condition called pneumonia. It is associated with a persistent cough, shortness of breath and wheezing. Also Read: Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?

7. Smoking

Smoking is a risk factor for chronic obstructive lung disorder. Chronic smoking irritates the airway and results in persistent cough associated with cracking sound while breathing, chest pain, shortness of breath and wheezing. However, both active and passive smoking can worsen wheezing.

8. Anaphylaxis

Sudden allergic reactions caused due to food or stinging insect can constrict airways, swollen the tongue which can cause shortness of breath and wheezing. It is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.


Wheezing in most of the cases is treated by controlling the underlying conditions. If a person develops wheezing prompt medical attention and treatment should be given. In case if you experience wheezing with shortness of breath and blue tinge in the skin seek immediate medical care right away.