SignSymptom infobox
Name = Wheeze
ICD10 = ICD10|R|06|2|r|00
ICD9 = ICD9|786.07
A wheeze is a continuous, coarse, whistling sound produced in the respiratory airways during breathing. For wheezes to occur, some part of the respiratory tree must be narrowed or obstructed, or airflow velocity within the respiratory tree must be heightened. Wheezing is commonly experienced by persons with a lung disease; the most common cause of recurrent wheezing is asthma, a form of reactive airway disease.

The differential diagnosis of wheezing is wide, and the cause of wheezing in a given patient is determined by considering the characteristics of the wheezes and the historical and clinical findings made by the examining physician.

The causes of wheezing

Common causes of wheezing are:
*Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
*Medication-induced bronchoconstriction
*Pulmonary edema
*Tracheobronchitis, and
*Vocal cord dysfunction

Less common causes of wheezing include:
*Amyloid deposition
*Carcinoid syndrome
*Descending aortic aneurysms
*Postlobectomy bronchial torsion
*Postradiation stenosis
*Tracheo-broncheal tumors
*Tracheal stenosis
*Aspiration (foreign particles or foods)


Wheezes occupy different portions of the respiratory cycle depending on the site of airway obstruction and its nature. The proportion of the respiratory cycle occupied by the wheeze (WheezeRate) roughly corresponds to the degree of airway obstruction.rf|1|Baughman,rf|2|Pasterkamp Bronchiolar disease usually causes wheezing that occurs in the expiratory phase of respiration. The presence of expiratory phase wheezing signifies that the patient's peak expiratory flow rate is less than 50% of normal.rf|3|Shim Wheezing heard in the inspiratory phase on the other hand is often a sign of a stiff stenosis, usually caused by tumors, foreign bodies or scarring. This is especially true if the wheeze is monotonal, occurs throughout the inspiratory phase (ie. is "holoinspiratory"), and is heard more distally, in the trachea. Inspiratory wheezing also occurs in hypersensitivity pneumonitis.rf|4|Earis Wheezes heard at the end of both expiratory and inspiratory phases usually signify the periodic opening of deflated alveoli, as occurs in some diseases that lead to collapse of parts of the lungs.

The location of the wheeze can also be an important clue to the diagnosis. Diffuse processes that affect most parts of the lungs are more likely to produce wheezing that may be heard throughout the chest via a stethoscope. Localized processes, such as the occlusion of a portion of the respiratory tree, are more likely to produce wheezing at that location, whence the sound will be loudest and radiate outwardly. The pitch of a wheeze does not reliably predict the degree of narrowing in the affected airway.rf|5|Meslier

A special type of wheeze is stridor. Stridor — the word is from the Latin, "strīdor"rf|6|OED — is a harsh, high-pitched, vibrating sound that is heard in respiratory tract obstruction. Stridor heard solely in the expiratory phase of respiration usually indicates a lower respiratory tract obstruction, "as with aspiration of a foreign body (such as the fabled pediatric peanut)."rf|7|Sapira Stridor in the inspiratory phase is usually heard with obstruction in the upper airways, such as the trachea, epiglottis, or larynx; because a block here means that no air may reach either lung, this condition is a medical emergency.


1 out of 3 preschool children and 2 out of 3 school children with recurrent wheezing/coughing are allergic.Fact|date=May 2008 Allergy can be described as a malfunction of the human immune system causing a violent reaction against normally harmless substances in our natural environment. The reaction creates an inflammation which, in turn, can lead to a variety of symptoms such as wheezing.

Over the last decade allergy has increased rapidly in the Western world.Fact|date=May 2008 Today one child in four is allergic.Fact|date=September 2008 Early diagnosis of allergy is important for the development of the child later in life.Fact|date=May 2008 There are many patients with symptoms suggesting eczema, rhinitis, hay fever, asthma or wheezing. Patients with these conditions may have an allergic condition or other diseases.

ee also

* Rales
* Rhonchi
* [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14966812?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum WheezeRate] - Duration of wheeze divided by the duraton of breath phase X 100


ent|1|Baughman Baughman RP, Loudon RG. Quantitation of wheezing in acute asthma. "Chest." 1984;86:718–722. PMID 6488909ent|2|Pasterkamp Pasterkamp H, Asher T, Leahy F, et al. The effect of anticholinergic treatment on postexertional wheezing in asthma studied by phonopneumography and spirometry. "Am Rev Respir Dis." 1985;132:16–21. PMID 3160273ent|3|Shim Shim CS, Williams MH. Relationship of wheezing to the severity of obstruction in asthma. "Arch Intern Med." 1983;143:890–892. PMID 6679232ent|4|Earis Earis J, Marsh K, Pearson M, et al. The inspiratory squawk in extrinsic allergic alveolitis and other pulmonary fibrosis. "Thorax." 1982;37:923–926. PMID 7170682ent|5|Meslier Meslier N, Charbonneau G, Racineux JL. Wheezes. "Eur Respir J." 1995;8(11):1942-8. PMID 8620967ent|6|OED Simpson JA, Weiner ESC (eds). "stridor, n. 2"." "Oxford English Dictionary" 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. OED Online Oxford University Press. Accessed September 10, 2005. http://dictionary.oed.com.ent|7|Sapira Orient JM. "Sapira's Art & Science of Bedside Diagnosis" 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott William Wilkins, 2000. ISBN 0-683-30714-2

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wheeze — Wheeze, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Wheezed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Wheezing}.] [OE. whesen, AS. hw[=e]san (cf. Icel. hv[ae]sa to hiss, Sw. hv[ a]sa, Dan. hv[ae]se); akin to AS. hw[=o]sta a cough, D. hoest, G. husten, OHG. huosto, Icel. h[=o]sti, Lith. kosti …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Wheeze — Wheeze, n. 1. A piping or whistling sound caused by difficult respiration. [1913 Webster] 2. (Phon.) An ordinary whisper exaggerated so as to produce the hoarse sound known as the stage whisper. It is a forcible whisper with some admixture of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • wheeze — [hwēz, wēz] vi. wheezed, wheezing [ME whesen < ON hvæsa, to hiss < IE base * k̑wes , to wheeze, snort > L queri, to lament] 1. to breathe hard with a whistling, breathy sound, as in asthma 2. to make a sound like this [the old organ… …   English World dictionary

  • wheeze — (v.) mid 15c., probably from a Scandinavian source (Cf. O.N. hvoesa to hiss, Dan. hvæse) cognate with O.E. hwæst act of blowing, hwosan to cough, from an imitative root. Related: Wheezed; wheezing. The noun is first recorded 1834 …   Etymology dictionary

  • wheeze — [v] breathe roughly, heavily buzz, catch one’s breath, cough, gasp, hiss, murmur, pant, puff, rasp, sibilate, snore, whisper, whistle; concepts 163,308 …   New thesaurus

  • wheeze — ► VERB 1) breathe with a whistling or rattling sound in the chest, as a result of obstruction in the air passages. 2) (of a device) make an irregular rattling or spluttering sound. ► NOUN 1) a sound of a person wheezing. 2) Brit. informal a… …   English terms dictionary

  • wheeze — I UK [wiːz] / US [wɪz] / US [hwɪz] verb Word forms wheeze : present tense I/you/we/they wheeze he/she/it wheezes present participle wheezing past tense wheezed past participle wheezed 1) a) [intransitive] to breathe in a noisy way that is… …   English dictionary

  • wheeze — wheeze1 [ wiz, hwiz ] verb 1. ) intransitive to breathe in a noisy way that is uncomfortable for you, usually because you are sick: Cats fur makes me wheeze. a ) transitive to say something while you are breathing in this way: Thank you for… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • wheeze — 1. noun /wiːz/ a) A piping or whistling sound caused by difficult respiration. The new comedy is a wheeze. b) An ordinary whisper exaggerated so as to produce the hoarse sound known as the …   Wiktionary

  • wheeze — 1. To breathe with difficulty and noisily. 2. A whistling, squeaking, musical, or puffing sound made on exhalation by air passing through the fauces, glottis, or narrowed tracheobronchial airways. [A.S. hwesan] asthmatoid w. a puffing or musical… …   Medical dictionary

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