Wheezing

Description: A whistling noise in the chest during breathing when the airways are narrowed or compressed.

Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes. It is experienced by 10-15% of the population.

Organ or part of body involved: Respiratory Organs

Symptoms and indications: A high-pitched purring or whistling sound produced during breathing out. Rapid breathing rate is commonly associated (more than 60 breaths/minute if less than 2 months, more than 50 if 2-12 months and more than 40 if 1-5 years).

Causes and risk factors: Common causes are asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchiolitis, bronchitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, viral infection, especially in infants younger than 2 years old, pneumonia, emphysema (COPD), especially when a respiratory infection is present, smoking, insect sting which causes an allergic reaction, medications -- many asthmatics wheeze after taking aspirin and inhalation of foreign matter into the lungs.

Prevention: Exposure to moist, heated air (such as through a vaporizer or in a hot shower) may help alleviate some symptoms. Active or passive smoking makes coughs much worse.

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