How to Control Wheezing

Updated April 17, 2017

A wheeze is a whistling sound that occurs when airways in the respiratory system constrict. It often is accompanied by coughing and laboured breathing. Wheezing is a symptom of an underlying condition, and asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and certain types of viral infections are commonly associated with it. Occasionally, wheezing can be caused by cardiac disease, allergic reactions and certain medications. Regardless of cause, you can do certain things to keep wheezing under control.

Write down what you were doing and where you were every time you have had an episode of wheezing that you think may be the result of allergies. Identify the patterns and stay away from precipitants. For example, if you notice that you wheeze when around cats, avoid cats.

Get a diagnosis from a doctor so you know which specific condition is causing your wheezing. Bring the notes you made about precipitating factors, so the doctor can go over them.

Steam your airways. Turn on the hot water in the shower,,close the bathroom door and sit in the bathroom for five minutes. Do this once or twice a day. Leave the bathroom or open the door if you feel dizzy, lightheaded or extremely hot. This works well for people with acute conditions like bronchitis and upper respiratory infections.

Take over-the-counter antihistamines as needed and directed, if you suffer from allergy-induced wheezing. Antihistamines, which prevent or relieve allergy symptoms, should betaken at the first sign of allergies, to prevent wheezing. Ask your doctor for a prescription if over-the-counter drugs are not working.

Avoid bronchial irritants such as second-hand smoke, dust and chemical vapours. Quit smoking immediately. This is especially important for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis.

Use your inhaler(s) exactly as directed. The medicines in inhalers help open the airways, reduce inflammation and stop wheezing and coughing. Obtain a prescription from your doctor.

If you have a respiratory infection, get adequate rest and maintain proper hydration. This will allow your immune system to fight infection more effectively, allowing you to get better faster and reduce your risk of complications.

Learn breathing exercises like pursed-lip breathing, which can help retrain your respiratory system. Your doctor can refer you to the proper class.


Get flu and pneumococcal vaccines annually to prevent illnesses that can irritate bronchial airways.


Steam is less effective for people who suffer from certain chronic conditions. It can make some conditions, such as asthma, worse.

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About the Author

Camira Bailey has been writing for various online publications since 2006, specializing in health and animal care. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from UCLA and is completing her master's degree in holistic health. Bailey is also an ACE-certified advanced health and fitness specialist.