Allergy wheezing: Causes, diagnosis, and treatment


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Can allergies cause wheezing and shortness of breath?

Wheezing and tight chest
Allergy wheezing may occur during an allergic reaction.

People affected by allergies may experience a whistling sound when they breathe, called wheezing.

When someone has an allergic reaction, their throat may tighten causing breathing to be labored. This can lead to a high-pitched noise when the person breathes in and out.

But why do allergies cause wheezing and what treatments are available?

In this article, we explore the causes, diagnosis, and ways to treat wheezing caused by allergies, allergic asthma, and anaphylactic shock.

  • Allergy wheezing is a physical symptom that people experience during an allergic reaction.
  • For most people with allergies, allergic reactions cause mild irritation – and any wheezing is short-lived.
  • When someone is experiencing wheezing, a doctor can help determine the cause.
  • Treatment depends on the specific allergy and may include medication.

How do allergies cause wheezing?

Wheezing can have a range of causes, it is important to identify the correct cause to receive the right treatment. Potential causes include:

Allergic reactions

dandelion pollen
Pollen is an allergen that can commonly cause wheezing.

An allergic reaction is how the body responds when it comes into contact with a substance, or allergen it mistakes as harmful. Allergic reactions can cause symptoms in different parts of the body, including the:

  • nose
  • throat
  • ears
  • eyes
  • lungs
  • stomach lining
  • skin

Examples of allergens that can cause wheezing include:

  • pollen
  • dust
  • pet hair
  • certain foods
  • Insect stings
  • medications

Inflammation of the airways

When the body detects an allergen, it views it as a foreign body and tries to reject it. It does this by producing antibodies and histamine to attack the allergen. Histamine causes a person’s airways to become inflamed and produce mucus.

As a result, the airways become narrower. When a person breathes in and out through narrowed airways, air is forced through a smaller space, which causes a whistling sound. This is the distinctive wheezing sound.


Though typically short-lived, some people experience symptoms that are more serious or more long-term.

What are the allergy wheezing symptoms?

The main symptom of allergy wheezing is the wheezing sound itself. Some people describe the sound as a high-pitch musical, whistling, or squeaky noise.

Wheezing is most noticeable when a person breathes in, but can sometimes be heard when they breathe out too. Some people may experience a feeling of discomfort in their throat and chest.

Anaphylactic shock symptoms

People with more serious allergies can have a severe allergic reaction called an anaphylactic shock. If this happens, people should seek medical assistance straight away.

If wheezing is accompanied by any of the following, this could be a sign of an anaphylactic shock:

  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid breathing
  • bluish skin color
  • swelling of the face or lips

Allergic asthma symptoms

Not everyone who experiences allergy…

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