Skip to Main Content

Why am I wheezing? Understanding common causes

You have every right to be concerned when something isn't right with your breathing. A common type of breathing problem is wheezing. Wheezing is a coarse, high-pitched whistling sound that can have various causes. While some cases of wheezing are nothing to be concerned about, there are serious cases of wheezing that need medical attention as well.

Causes of wheezing

Because there are so many possible causes of wheezing, it can be difficult to determine exactly what is triggering the breathing problem. Some of the more common causes of wheezing are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, both of which require continuous medical treatment.

Cases of wheezing that aren't as serious include those caused by bronchitis, reaction to smoking, allergies or other short-term illnesses. In these cases, wheezing is generally a temporary symptom and will clear up with basic medications.

Occasionally, wheezing may be a sign of a more serious condition, including:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Emphysema
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart failure

When should I seek treatment?

While wheezing is not always a medical emergency and can sometimes be treated at an urgent care clinic, emergency services should be called if wheezing is accompanied by dizziness, swollen throat or tongue, and difficulty breathing.

If you experience wheezing for the first time, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor about possible causes. If you're wheezing due to a condition such as asthma, then you may be prescribed an inhaler or other medications to help open the airways further. When wheezing is a symptom of an upper respiratory condition, antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. For more serious causes of wheezing, medical attention may include medications to open up the breathing tubes and control inflammation in the airways.

Wheezing can be due to a condition that is easy to control, such as asthma or allergies, but it also may indicate a more serious problem. So if you experience any sort of wheezing, make sure to talk to a doctor. Fortunately, 85% of urgent care clinics are open every day of the week, so you should never have trouble seeking medical attention. Indigo Health clinics are open every day from 8 am to 8 pm. Getting a proper diagnosis and medication, as needed, can help control wheezing and treat any underlying problems.


A better way to get better.

Health care that’s friendly, easy, and centered around you.

Find My Indigo