What Causes Wheezing?

Wheezing can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'life-threatening'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose wheezing, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "wheezing" as a symptom.  Here are three possibilities:
  • Carcinoid Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Acute Bronchitis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
highly elevated eosinophil count
facial flushing
past vaccinations
chronic productive cough
very low tryptophan levels
high air pollution exposure
being underweight
blue/bluish fingernails
dizziness when standing up
occasional chest tightness
history of occult blood
... and more than 10 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of wheezing:
Cause Probability Status
Carcinoid Cancer 94% Confirm
Asthma 25% Unlikely
Acute Bronchitis 2% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having breathing problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you wheeze? If you are using respiratory medication (e.g. for asthma), tell us if you wheeze when you are not using it.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No, not at all
→ Only after exercise
→ Occasionally / slightly
→ Much of the time / severely
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate absence of wheezing, wheezing after exercise only or wheezing, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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