Ronchi and rails


Wheezing and wheezing are types of light sounds that can be heard with a stethoscope. Health professionals listen to the sounds of breathing, a process called auscultation, to detect and help diagnose possible lung diseases.

Various characteristics of sounds, such as whether they are heard when inhaling or exhaling, can indicate how air is moving through the lungs and provide important clues that are used to identify potential disease processes.

Get Medical Information / Laura Porter


Wheezing is sometimes called wheezing because it is similar to another respiratory sound called wheezing. They can be described as low, continuous breathing sounds, reminiscent of snoring or gurgling. Wheezing is best heard during the expiratory phase of breathing (exhaling) .


Wheezing occurs when a larger airway is secreted or obstructed. These breath sounds are associated with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) , bronchiectasis, pneumonia , chronic bronchitis , or cystic fibrosis .

Sometimes when you cough, you clear secretions long enough for the sounds to stop for a while, and they come back when secretions (mucus) build up again in the airways .


Wheezing is also sometimes called crackling, which is a good description of its sound, which is often described as crumpling a sheet of paper or tearing two pieces of Velcro.

Wheezing is further subdivided into fine or even wheezing, with fine wheezing (or crackling) having a high pitch and thick wheezing (or crackling) with a lower pitch. They are fickle and audible when you inhale (inhale) .


Wheezing is believed to occur when small air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli , suddenly open in the presence of secretions. However, this is not entirely clear.

Conditions associated with wheezing include pneumonia, atelectasis (a condition in which the alveoli in certain areas of the lungs are destroyed), pulmonary fibrosis, and heart failure .

Key differences between Rhonchi and Rales

If you are a healthcare professional, it can be difficult to distinguish wheezing from wheezing, but understanding the basic differences between these types of breath sounds can help you correctly identify what you are hearing.

  • The wheezing is continuous, the wheezing is not, and it does not appear to have a rhythm that matches the respiratory rate.
  • Wheezing is usually heard when exhaling and wheezing when inhaling.
  • Wheezing may disappear briefly after coughing (or breathing in mucus), although this generally has little to no effect on wheezing.


In addition to diagnostics, listening to breath sounds is a way to monitor the progression of a respiratory disease. However, this section will discuss the next steps to take to establish a specific diagnosis after a healthcare provider detects wheezing or wheezing on auscultation.

It is worth noting that any immediate respiratory problems, such as decreased oxygen saturation, should be treated before a diagnostic test.

If this is the first time you have wheezing or wheezing and the cause is unknown, some of the following diagnostic tests are often helpful in determining the cause:

Watch out

Treatment for wheezing and wheezing in a person will vary depending on the doctor's decision, as well as any underlying conditions that may be causing these breath sounds.

However, treatment generally focuses on immediate relief of symptoms or the underlying cause (some treatments can be effective both in treating the symptoms and in eliminating the underlying cause).

In addition to trained doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists are often an important part of your health care team and play an important role in the delivery of such treatment.

Relief of symptoms.

Oxygen administration is often used for immediate symptom relief and is often necessary for general health and well-being. Occasionally, moisture can be added to the oxygen (usually with sterile water spray or saline), which helps to liquefy, dilute, and break down excess mucus, and can be more comfortable and less irritating to the respiratory tract.

Other methods of removing excess discharge are also effective in relieving symptoms, at least temporarily, and may include nasopharyngeal suction and increased fluid supply (often intravenously).

Your nurse or respiratory therapist may also recommend that you exercise (usually getting up and walking) or coughing to remove excess secretions. In some cases, respiratory therapists may use other techniques, such as percussion (shaking or vibrating the chest) or vibrations to remove secretions .

Inhaled medications, including bronchodilators such as albuterol, ventolin , or proventil (salbutamol), are often used to immediately relieve symptoms. These drugs cause the airways to widen (increase in diameter), allowing more air to pass through the airways and into the lungs.

Common side effects of these medications include heart palpitations, tremors, and feeling jittery. They cannot be combined with certain other pharmaceuticals, including some heart medications and antidepressants .

Root cause treatment

Since each root cause of wheezing and wheezing is different, in this section we will focus on some examples of common root causes and briefly describe the different treatments for them. For example, if the cause is bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics may be required.

Treatment of atelectasis often involves increased exercise, coughing, and deep breathing, and if anesthesia has been administered, it may take time for the anesthetic to metabolize (leave the body).

Treating chronic respiratory conditions that contribute to wheezing and wheezing, such as cystic fibrosis, COPD, or heart failure, can be much more difficult.

This can include taking certain medications, making diet or lifestyle changes, low-flow oxygen supplies, or even surgical procedures on the heart or lungs, such as a cardiac catheterization or transplant.

Each person's circumstances and subsequent treatment will be unique, but the goal of treating the underlying condition will be the same.

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