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Wheezing is a characteristic whistling sound heard in the chest or in the breathing of a person who has partial obstruction of the smallest breathing tubes, the bronchioles (bronk-ee-oles). It is characteristic of asthma and bronchiolitis.
When a person breathes in, the chest expands, and everything in the chest expands along with it. This includes the breathing tubes. This makes it easier for air to go in (through larger air tubes during inspiration) than for it to go out (through smaller air tubes on expiration). This effect is magnified many times if there is any narrowing of the air passages, such as when there is swelling of the walls of the air tubes (for example from asthma or infection) or if there is debris and excessive thick mucus blocking the air passages (asthma or viral infection). The peculiar sound of wheezing is produced by the abnormal vibration of millions of tiny air tubes in this way.
Specific situations that involve a true wheezing or a wheezing sound in your child's breathing include: