How is wheezing treated?

Treatment for wheezing depends on the underlying cause. Immediate treatment may include the use of supplemental oxygen to help the patient with breathing. Some patients may need to be hospitalized until their breathing improves.

If your wheezing is found to be caused by asthma, you will likely be prescribed a type of inhaler to reduce inflammation and open your airways (a bronchodilator, as discussed below). Inhaled corticosteroids and pills such as montelukast (Singulair®) are anti-inflammatory medicines used to treat asthma.

If your wheezing is determined to be caused by bronchitis, you may be prescribed a bronchodilator such as albuterol (Proair® HFA, Proventil® HFA, Ventolin® HFA) or an antibiotic to deal with a bacterial infection. This should eliminate your wheezing as you heal.

Other causes of wheezing may require different treatment. Whatever the cause of your wheezing, using a cool-mist humidifier or a steam vaporizer or sitting in an area with moist, heated air such as a shower, can help relieve your symptoms. Your doctor can come up with the best plan for your condition.

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

References

  • 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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