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"Why am I still wheezing if my cough has already gone away?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy am I still wheezing if my cough has already gone away?


Went through a pretty bad chest cold about a two weeks ago. Had to take some steroids but it cleared up. Now though, I still have wheezing sometimes and I can hear it a lot when I take a deep breath. Why am I still wheezing if my chest cold is gone?


Wheezing can be the result of either inflammation or constriction (or both) of the small airways in the lungs. There are many different conditions that can predispose to airways, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Typically patients with these conditions leading to reactive airways experience flares when they are exposed to a stressor. These stressors vary from person to person, and can include upper or lower respiratory infections, exercise, cold weather, common allergens (such as ragweed), and toxic substances (such as chemical pollutants). Treatment of these flares is usually aimed at helping the airway muscles relax (with bronchodilators) and decreasing the inflammation (with inhaled or oral steroids). The fact that you were given steroids means that your doctors likely thought that you have some underlying reactive airway disease. Even though the original stressor causing your flare may have been efficiently treated, you may still be experiencing inflammation at the level of the small airways (and thus still have some residual wheezing). Sometimes it takes several weeks to get over such a stressor, and for this reason it is important to maintain treatment with your standard regimen for your baseline lung disease. Please discuss this issue with your primary care doctor. Good luck!

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