Inflammation and narrowing of the airway in any location, from your throat out into your lungs, can result in wheezing.
The most common causes of recurrent wheezing are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which both cause narrowing and spasms (bronchospasms) in the small airways of your lungs.
However, any inflammation in your throat or larger airways can cause wheezing. Common causes include infection, an allergic reaction or a physical obstruction, such as a tumor or a foreign object that's been inhaled.
All of the following conditions can lead to wheezing:
- Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction, such as to an insect bite or medication)
- Bronchiectasis (a chronic lung condition in which abnormal widening of bronchial tubes inhibits mucus clearing)
- Bronchiolitis (especially in young children)
- Childhood asthma
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) exacerbation — worsening of symptoms
- Epiglottitis (swelling of the "lid" of your windpipe)
- Foreign object inhaled: First aid
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Heart failure
- Lung cancer
- Medications (particularly aspirin)
- Sleep apnea, obstructive (a condition in which breathing stops and starts during sleep)
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — especially in young children
- Respiratory tract infection (especially in children younger than 2)
- Vocal cord dysfunction (a condition that affects vocal cord movement)
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Jan. 11, 2018
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