How is wheezing diagnosed?

Your doctor will begin an exam by asking about how long and how often you have been wheezing. He or she will ask if the wheezing occurs with physical exertion, as when exercising, or if you wheeze all of the time. Other questions the doctor will need to know include:

  • Does your wheezing always occur in a certain place, where dust or allergens may make you wheeze?
  • Does it occur at both day and night? Does rest help?
  • Does it occur when you breathe in, or out, or both in and out?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do certain foods seem to cause your wheezing?

Your doctor will also perform a physical exam to listen to your breathing and lung sounds. He or she may also prescribe a lung X-ray, lung function tests, and blood tests to check your oxygen levels. If the patient is a child, the doctor may also check to make sure he or she did not swallow or inhale a small object such as a toy or coin that could cause the wheezing.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/30/2017.


  • Weiss LN. The diagnosing of wheezing in children. Am Fam Physician 2008;77:1109–14.
  • The Merck Manual. Wheezing Accessed 10/16/2019.
  • Braun-Fahrländer C, Riedler J, Herz U, et al.; Allergy and Endotoxin Study Team. Environmental exposure to endotoxin and its relation to asthma in school-age children. N Engl J Med 2002;347:869–77.
  • Gong H JR. Wheezing and Asthma. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 37.

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