What Causes Wheezing in the Throat?

Lung with open and Closed Tubes

Wheezing in the throat, also known as throat wheezing or inspiratory stridor, can be caused by various factors, and it is important to determine the underlying cause to receive appropriate treatment. Wheezing in the throat typically indicates a partial obstruction in the upper airway, which may be related to:

  • Allergic Reactions: Allergies to substances like pollen, dust, pet dander, or certain foods can cause inflammation and swelling in the throat, leading to wheezing.
  • Upper Respiratory Infections: Infections of the upper respiratory tract, such as the common cold, flu, or laryngitis, can result in inflammation and narrowing of the airway, causing wheezing during inhalation.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): GERD can lead to stomach acid flowing back into the throat, causing irritation and inflammation of the throat tissues. This can result in throat wheezing, especially at night or after eating.
  • Smoking: Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to irritation and inflammation in the throat, which may cause wheezing.
  • Inhaled Irritants: Exposure to inhaled irritants, such as strong odors, fumes, or chemicals, can irritate the throat and lead to wheezing.
  • Voice Overuse or Strain: Overusing or straining the vocal cords can lead to inflammation and temporary wheezing or hoarseness in the throat.
  • Tonsillitis or Pharyngitis: Infections or inflammation of the tonsils (tonsillitis) or the pharynx (pharyngitis) can cause throat wheezing and discomfort.
  • Foreign Objects: In rare cases, the presence of a foreign object in the throat can obstruct the airway and cause wheezing.
  • Vocal Cord Dysfunction: Some individuals may experience vocal cord dysfunction (also known as paradoxical vocal fold movement), where the vocal cords close during inhalation, leading to throat wheezing and breathing difficulties.
  • Tumors or Growths: Benign or malignant growths in the throat or airway can obstruct airflow and cause wheezing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent or severe throat wheezing, it’s important to seek medical evaluation. A healthcare provider may perform a physical examination, ask about medical history, and, if necessary, conduct tests such as laryngoscopy, imaging, or pulmonary function tests to determine the cause. Treatment will depend on the underlying condition and may include medications, lifestyle changes, voice therapy, or, in some cases, surgical intervention.

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