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Old 01-04-2008, 06:34 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
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Whistling noise when I exhale when I have a cold - not a request for advise

This isn't a request for advise. It's more of a physiology questions.

I've got a cold. My nose is all stuffed up and I've got a sore throat. Here's the fun part. When I'm laying down and exhale deeply, at the end of the exhale, I can hear a whistling sound. Sometimes it's even 2 different tones, starting at different points in the exhale. And they will continue after I stop exhaling / start holding my breath. No noise on the inhale. No tightness in the chest.

So what the heck is making this noise? My limited knowledge of biology doesn't cover "Strange noises made while you have a cold".
Old 01-04-2008, 07:00 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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The medical term for that is "wheeze" and in people with colds, it's often accompanied by rales, which are crackling noises on inhalation. The bottom half of this page gives a description of the many types of rales. (Veterinary or not, lungs are lungs.)

If the wheezing or whistling goes away after a cough or two, it's probably just mucus clogging things up temporarily.

Standard disclaimer - if it bothers you, check with your doctor.
Old 01-04-2008, 07:19 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Location: Seattle
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Wheezing is heard when airways are swollen so air passes through a smaller opening, something like whistling through your fingers.

Rales are "wet" noises from having fluid between the airways, usually caused by congestive heart failure.

Rhonchi are sounds of breathing through fluid (snot).
Old 01-04-2008, 11:26 PM
LurkMeister LurkMeister is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Central NC
Posts: 4,656
I've had this for the last few years, even when I don't have a cold (or at least when I'm not aware that I have a cold, as I seem to have some minor respiratory problems). I finally went to the doctor today about a persistent cough I've had for the past week, and he gave me a prescription for an albuterol inhalor to try to clear up what I believe he referred to as "temporary asthma".
Old 01-06-2008, 11:38 AM
Sockmunkey Sockmunkey is offline
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Before I had my adenoids removed I was totally unable to breathe through my nose every year between the months of november and march.
Old 01-07-2008, 01:14 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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You've got the answer already (above), but to summarize and clarify, let me restate (and add a thing or two).

It's quite common after a "cold" for the breathing tubes (bronchi and bronchioles) to remain inflamed even though the virus that started things is long gone. One manifestation of such inflammation is spasm or constriction of the breathing tubes. Typically, this bronchospasm causes a wheezing or whistling sound. Not too surpringly, then, these sounds are called wheezes.

But wheezes can occur for other reasons. In the case of a recent "cold", a wheezing sound can also be produced if there's phlegm in the breathing tubes. Indeed, another aspect to inflammation in the lungs is increased phlegm, i.e. mucous, production.

The terms "rhonchus" and its plural "rhonchi" are seldom used anymore (IMO). Instead, we refer to "coarse upper airway sounds" which, like the obsolete rhonchi, refer to the sounds produced when air passes through a mucous filled (relatively large) breathing tube.

Rales is another term that has fallen by the wayside (again, IMO). Same for crepitation. Both were previously used to denote the crackling sounds produced when the smallest breathing tubes snap open from a collapsed state (that is not a normal phenomenon). Typically, this occurs when there is fluid in them (you can imagine that if there's water lining a very slender tube, the effective charge of water molecules on either "side" tends to cause the tube to collapse. When the tube reopens (during inspiration when it's "reinflated), you hear it snap open. Note that this implies that rales and crepitations are only heard during inspiration. In any case, as noted, the terms rales and crepitations aren't used much any more. They've been supplanted by the term crackles. So, one should never talk about expiratory crackles. If you think they're present during expiration, you're probably hearing quieter than usual "coarse upper airway sounds" which can and do occur during either inspiration or expiration (exhalation),

As you can see, we usually only talk about two types of these abnormal breath sounds any more - wheezes and crackles.

Hope this made some sense.


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