Natural Remedies for Wheezing

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  • If you experience wheezing related to asthma, you should follow your asthma action plan to decide when to contact your doctor. For others, wheezing might be treated with these natural remedies—in addition to any treatments prescribed by your doctor.

    Wheezing is commonly associated with an asthma attack, but many things can cause the structures of the throat to tighten and make it hard to breathe. Mucus in the throat due to a cold, dryness, a chronic condition like COPD, or even inhaling a foreign object all can produce the characteristic high-pitched whistle of wheezing.

  • 1
    Steam
    steamy shower

    Steam is a well-known wheezing remedy. The moist heat of steam can relax and open dry airways when wheezing is caused by dry air. Cool humidity also works for this purpose. Try taking a steamy bath or shower, or run hot water in a bowl and tent your head with a towel as you inhale the steam. If you wheeze frequently due to a dry throat, run a mist-type humidifier in your living areas. It may be especially helpful to humidify your bedroom air, as nighttime dryness can make you wake up with a cough or wheeze.

  • 2
    Warm drinks
    Chamomile Herbal Tea

    When wheezing occurs due to a dry throat or postnasal drip, sipping a warm beverage can help clear any mucus that might be narrowing the airway. Choose any type of warm liquid you like, from hot water with lemon to black tea to an herbal drink. Avoid milk-based drinks, like hot chocolate, since milk can promote mucus collection in the throat. You also can try sipping broth or eating soup to calm a wheeze.

  • 3
    Throat lozenges
    Woman taking a cough or sore throat lozenge

    Medicated throat lozenges, hard candies, and other types of suckers can ease throat dryness that might be causing you to wheeze. If your wheeze seems to be related to a cold accompanied by sore throat and coughing, an over-the-counter medicated lozenge may help clear mucus and open your airways to allow you to breathe better. Otherwise, choose a sugar-free hard candy to create more saliva and moisten your throat. Alternating between warm drinks and lozenges may provide the relief from wheezing you need.

  • 4
    Asthma breathing exercises
    young woman with hand on chest and concern on face and trouble breathing

    Breathing exercises for wheezing can help if the wheezing is due to asthma or COPD. To begin, sit on a structured chair and take a moment to relax your neck, shoulders and upper back muscles. As you breathe in, place your hands on your navel (belly button) to feel yourself pulling in air with the diaphragm. When you breathe out, purse your lips and exhale very slowly. Aim to exhale for at least twice as long as you inhaled. Learning to breathe better is an excellent natural remedy for asthma and wheezing, in general.

  • 5
    Ginger
    Ginger tea with lemon

    Some studies show ginger may be an excellent natural remedy for wheezing because certain compounds in this plant cause smooth muscle tissue in the lungs to relax. You may be able to take advantage of this effect by eating and drinking more natural ginger products. Try brewing ginger tea or adding minced ginger to your meals. Chewing dried ginger may also be effective, but beware the sugar load of munching on candied ginger. Though delicious, it may not be the best “alternative medicine” for wheezing.

  • 6
    Vitamins C, D and E
    smiling woman taking vitamins

    Some research seems to indicate that maintaining adequate dietary levels of vitamins C, D and E may benefit lung tissue, which can reduce episodes of wheezing. Plus, you can’t go wrong health-wise by incorporating more vitamins from natural sources into your diet. Try eating more citrus fruit for vitamin C, more wild salmon for vitamin D, and more almonds for vitamin E. Obtaining vitamins from food sources is always better than taking supplements because you also benefit from the fiber and micronutrients contained in the whole food.

  • 7
    Quitting smoking
    No Smoking Message

    Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your overall health—and for your lung tissue, in particular. If you smoke on top of having a chronic breathing condition like COPD or asthma, you make your condition worse and may wheeze frequently. Every state offers help quitting smoking. You may qualify for free aids like nicotine gum or patches, along with counseling to help you quit. Don’t believe it’s ever too late. By breaking the habit, you can preserve what lung function you have left to improve your quality of life.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Aug 13
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Wheezing. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003070.htm
  2. Wheezing. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/wheezing/basics/definition/SYM-20050764?p=1
  3. Breathing Exercises. American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/breathing-exercises
  4. Townsend EA, Siviski ME, et al. Effects of Ginger and Its Constituents on Airway Smooth Muscle Relaxation and Calcium Regulation. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2013 Feb;48(2):157-63. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23065130/
  5. Berthon BS, Wood LG. Nutrition and Respiratory Health—Feature Review. Nutrients. 2015 Mar; 7(3): 1618–1643. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377870/