Wheezing Medical Course
How to Stop Wheezing
"Wheezing" refers to a high-pitched whistling sound produced while exhaling or inhaling. To stop wheezing, you'll need to clear your airways and make it easier for your lungs to process each breath you take. Depending on the underlying cause, professional medical intervention might also be necessary.
Clear the Air
Keep your living environment clean.Removing irritants from the air you breathe can stop wheezing and associated difficulties caused by external sources, so you should keep the air in both your living and working environment as clean as possible.
Wear scarves during cold weather.Cold air can actually cause your lungs and airways to tense, which may cause or worsen wheezing. If the temperature is cold enough for you to see your breath, you should wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth before stepping outside.
- The scarf should warm the air before it reaches your airways. Additionally, the scarf can serve as an extra filter to ward away airborne respiratory viruses commonly spread during the cold winter months.
Avoid potential allergens and other triggers.Exposing yourself to food allergens and environmental allergens can cause wheezing, and foods that produce mucus can make wheezing worse. Avoid as many of these triggers as possible.
- Foods that produce mucus include dairy products, bananas, and sugar.
- If you have difficulty identifying your allergens, you may need your doctor to perform an allergy test.
- Treat seasonal allergies that cannot be avoided with over-the-counter antihistamines. Severe seasonal allergies might need prescription medication.
Inhale steam.Take a steamy shower or run a vaporizer in the room you're currently sitting in. As you breathe in the steam, the warmth can relax tense airways and the moisture can thin the mucus clogging them.
- To the same effect, try boiling 1 quart (1 L) of water mixed with 8 to 10 drops of peppermint oil. Once the water begins to evaporate, take it into a small, closed room and breathe in the steam. Don't hold your face directly in the steam, however, since doing so could cause burns.
Stay away from potent smells.Strong odors aren't necessarily bad for you when your lungs are healthy, but if your airways are stressed, they may cause those airways to restrict further. This can both cause and worsen wheezing.
- Chemical odors, like paint and chemical cleaners, can be some of the biggest culprits, but you should also avoid things like perfumes and heavily scented soaps or shampoo.
Change Your Diet
Maintain a balanced diet.Following a healthy, balanced diet will keep your body in its best operating condition and can improve the way it functions. Improved function means improved lung health, which typically leads to less wheezing.
- Diet can be especially important if your wheezing is caused by asthma or anxiety. Proper nutrition eases the stress placed on your body, making your lungs and airways less stressed, as well.
Stay hydrated.Drink more water than usual when your wheezing starts. Instead of aiming for eight 8-oz (250-ml) glasses per day, try to drink 10 to 12 glasses.
- Drinking water can make mucus thin and loose, making it less likely to clog your airways and cause wheezing.
- Other hydrating fluids, like herbal tea and citrus juice, can also help, but you should avoid fluids that can dehydrate you (alcohol and caffeine) and those that may produce more mucus (dairy milk).
Drink something warm.Warm fluids hydrate the body while soothing stressed airways, so they can relieve and even end many wheezing episodes when they start.
- Herbal teas are some of your best options. Try sipping on ginger tea, chamomile tea, or licorice root tea. Adding 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of honey to your tea can also soothe stressed, raw airways while acting as a mild antiseptic agent.
- Hot soup is another good choice, especially if you stick with broth-based soups. Creamy soups may not help quite as much since the dairy they contain can thicken and produce more mucus.
- In controlled amounts, coffee can also offer some benefit. Caffeine can dilate the airways, which may make breathing easier and end your wheezing. Since caffeine also dehydrates, though, drink no more than three 8-oz (250-ml) cups daily and offset it with plenty of hydrating fluids.
Take fish oil capsules.Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can strengthen your lungs. While this may not result in an immediate end to your wheezing, it can help stop wheezing in the long-run.
- Fish oil capsules are a great way to supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acid, but you can also increase your intake naturally by consuming fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
Try something spicy.If you've ever eaten something spicy when suffering from head congestion, you probably already know that spicy food can cut through that congestion quickly. Similarly, eating foods that contain cayenne pepper can help wheezing, as well.
- Cayenne pepper causes the fluids of your body to become active, thereby pushing more fluids through your body and causing mucus to thin out. As the mucus thins, it should become easier to breathe.
Strengthen Your Lungs
Calm down.Your body will naturally tense up when you experience respiratory difficulties like wheezing, and as a result, your lungs and throat might become more constricted. Relaxing your mind and body can ease that tension and make it easier to breathe clearly again.
- Nearly any activity that relaxes you without stressing your lungs can provide some benefit. For instance, meditating, praying, listening to soothing music, or taking a warm bath might work wonders. Avoid activities like smoking or drinking, though—they may temporarily calm the mind, but they stress the body, so they'll only make your wheezing worse.
Unblock your nose.Nasal breathing filters more allergens from your environment, and breathing through your nose can ultimately reduce wheezing and related respiratory difficulties. Before you can start breathing through your nose, though, you'll need to unblock it.
- Calm your breathing as much as possible, then take a small breath (inhale and exhale) through your nose. If you can't breathe through your nose, breathe through the corner of your mouth.
- Pinch your nose with your fingers, close your mouth, and hold your breath. Gently nod your head up and down while holding your breath, and continue until you feel a strong need to breathe in.
- When inhaling, release your nose but keep your mouth closed. Breathe gently through your nose, inhaling and exhaling, and calm your breathing again as quickly as possible.
- After two minutes, you can repeat the exercise again if your nose still feels blocked.
Warm your chest and upper back.Wheezing is associated with tense nerves and muscles in your chest, so warming this area of your body can help relax it and reduce some of your respiratory difficulties.
- Keep a hot towel on your chest, upper back, shoulders, and neck for approximately 10 minutes. Repeat every 30 minutes for as long as your symptoms persist.
Train yourself to breathe slowly.Wheezing can be triggered or worsened by hyperventilation. If you experience both symptoms, learning to slow your breathing can prevent your lungs from hyperventilating and may reduce any related wheezing.
- Spend a few minutes concentrating on your breathing. During this time, devote 13 to 16 seconds per full breath (inhale and exhale). Breathe through your nose since mouth breathing can encourage quicker breaths.
Practice formal breathing exercises.Breathing exercises should help improve your lung capacity and strength. They may not stop your wheezing immediately, but over time, your overall lung health should improve and lead to fewer wheezing episodes.
- Enroll yourself in a yoga class or mindful meditation course. Either option will include instruction on proper breathing, and you should learn various exercises designed to help improve the strength of your lungs.
- Singing classes may also include instruction and advice on improving lung capacity, so if yoga doesn't appeal to you, it might be another option worth considering.
Strengthen your lungs with exercise.Cardiovascular exercise, in general, can improve your body's overall health and strengthen your lung capacity over time.
- Start slowly by including mild forms of exercise into your daily routine. For instance, you might begin with one 30-minute walk each day. After several weeks, you can turn this walk into a jog. A few weeks after that, turn that jog into a run.
- Working gradually will usually work better than pushing yourself too hard from the start. Too much vigorous exercise can actually cause severe wheezing if your lungs aren't prepared for it.
Seek Professional Medical Care
Diagnose the underlying condition.Wheezing is only a symptom of some other condition. You should schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your wheezing if the symptom lasts for more than a few days.
- Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and triggers. He or she may also listen to your lungs with a stethoscope, and if your lungs have never been evaluated, you might be asked to perform a breathing test. Other tests, including blood tests and chest x-rays, may also be necessary.
- Conditions that commonly cause wheezing include asthma, allergies, bronchitis, other respiratory infections, and anxiety disorders.
Treat the underlying condition.Professional treatment for wheezing varies depending on the condition causing it. After diagnosing the cause, work with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your needs.
- Wheezing caused by asthma can be treated with "emergency" bronchodilator inhalers, inhaled corticosteroids, long-lasting brochodilator-corticosteroid combination inhalers, and asthma controller pills.
- Wheezing caused by allergies can be prevented by avoiding any identified allergens. Your doctor may also prescribe a non-sedating antihistamine pill.
- Your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator inhaler to treat wheezing caused by bronchitis, and if a bacterial infection develops, he or she might also prescribe an antibiotic.
- Patients whose wheezing stems from an anxiety disorder should seek treatment for their anxiety. This treatment can come in the form of medication, psychological therapy, or some combination of the two.
Know when to seek emergency care.When wheezing makes it difficult to breathe, you should seek emergency medical treatment. You should also seek emergency care if you develop severe lethargy, dizziness, or a high fever.
- Emergency treatment may include a shot of epinephrine to open your airways. You may also need oxygen, corticosteroids, nebulizer treatments, or treatments with a mechanical ventilator.
QuestionSometimes after a heavy dinner, I have wheezing and breathing problems why.?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou may want to look into the condition AERD. I suffered with this condition almost 10 years and no doctor ever mentioned it as a possibility! I would eat a big meal, then sit in the recliner and have the worst episodes of congestion and mucus production for a long period of time after. I also had the same reaction to NSAIDS. It caused me to have 4 polyp removal surgeries before my personal research discovered this problem. Several foods and NSAIDS contain this element that some of us have a hyper reaction to. Look it up, it changed my life!Thanks!
QuestionI haven't got asthma, but I wheeze on cold nights. Why is that?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe cold air can cause this. Try using a heating pad on your chest and warmer clothes/blankets. Turn up the heat if possible.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do I wheeze when I lie down?Hermione45Community AnswerYou are more likely to wheeze when you lie down because air is traveling across your airways, so it catches in the mucus at the back of your throat. You could try sleeping with two pillows so you are more upright -- that should help.Thanks!
QuestionI make a pop noise at the end of every wheeze I make. Is this OK?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, this is common with wheezing.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do I wheeze after using toothpaste or brushing my teeth?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou may have trouble breathing when brushing your teeth. Try to brush faster or take breaks in between your brushing.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do I wheeze after a bike ride, run or long walk?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you are out of shape, vigorous exercise can lead to wheezing. For people with asthma, the body does not react well with the pollutants in the air. When you exercise outside, you take more of these pollutants into your airways as you are breathing heavily and most likely through your mouth. Hence your airways become affected and you start wheezing. If you exercise outside in cold weather, it tends to make the wheezing worse.Thanks!
QuestionDo cigarette smoke or burning fuels trigger wheezing?Hermione45Community AnswerYes! Exposure to pollutants such as cigarette smoke can cause wheezing, especially in asthmatics.Thanks!
QuestionI often wheeze after running at school. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you wheeze after running, it may be a sign of asthma or allergies (if you're running outside). Go to the doctor and tell them your symptoms, they should be able to run some simple tests and then let you know about your treatment options.Thanks!
QuestionI have really bad asthma to the point where it is making my panic attacks really bad, how do I stop wheezing without taking too much of my inhaler?Hermione45Community AnswerIf you have lots of asthma/panic attacks, it’s a sign that your asthma isn’t controlled. Go to the doctor's for an asthma review, and if you are having an asthma attack, call 911.Thanks!
I have the flu. Is it normal that I wheeze?
Why do I wheeze after eating a meal and vomiting?
If you want to stop wheezing, keep your living and working areas clean so there are fewer irritants in the air, for example by dusting and vacuuming regularly. If your wheezing is particularly bad, try taking a hot shower and inhaling the steam, since this will help relax your airways. During periods of cold weather when you can see your breath, wear a scarf to prevent your lungs from tensing up. Additionally, drink more water when you have problems with wheezing to thin mucus or opt for herbal tea to soothe your airways.
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