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:
  • Asthma
  • Carcinoid Cancer
  • 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:
facial flushing
recurrent bronchitis
shortness of breath when at rest
past and future vaccination
somewhat elevated basophil count
chronic productive cough
very low tryptophan levels
severe abdominal pain
blue/bluish fingernails
moderate heart murmur
frequent sleepwalking
frequent rapid, shallow breathing
... 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
Acute Bronchitis 90% Confirm
Carcinoid Cancer 18% Unlikely
Asthma 5% 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:
Carcinoid Cancer

Patients with Carcinoid Syndrome sometimes have wheezing or asthma-like symptoms, making breathing difficult.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
Symptom Entry
Symptom Entry
Full Explanations
Optional Doctor Review
Review (optional)
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