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Wheezing: Overview

What is wheezing?

A wheeze is a whistling sound made when air flows through narrowed airways in the lungs, usually when people exhale. A healthcare provider can listen for wheezing through a stethoscope, but sometimes wheezing can be heard even without a stethoscope.

What causes wheezing?

Wheezing is caused by someone pushing air through airways that are narrow. Wheezing is a common symptom in children who have asthma or viral infections, but it can also be caused by other conditions including bronchiolitis, tracheomalacia and pneumonia.

Who wheezes?

Wheezing is a symptom in many respiratory conditions and no one group of children is more likely to wheeze than another. 

Tobacco smoke irritates the airways and being around smoke often makes wheezing worse. Parents and caregivers should not smoke around children. 

Helpful resources

  • American Lung Association provides information about all lung diseases, including asthma.  
  • Healthy Children provides parents with health information on a variety of health issues and is from the American Academy of Pediatrics.