Wheezing or Hoarseness
Wheezing or Hoarseness
A wheeze is a continuous, coarse, whistling sound produced in the respiratory airways during breathing. For wheezes to occur, some part of the respiratory tree must be narrowed or obstructed, or airflow velocity within the respiratory tree must be heightened. Wheezing is commonly experienced by persons with a lung disease; the most common cause of recurrent wheezing is asthma attacks, though it can also be a symptom of lung cancer. The differential diagnosis of wheezing is wide, and the reason for wheezing in a given patient is determined by considering the characteristics of the wheezes and the historical and clinical findings made by the examining physician.
Wheezes occupy different portions of the respiratory cycle depending on the site of airway obstruction and its nature. The fraction of the respiratory cycle during which a wheeze is produced roughly corresponds to the degree of airway obstruction. Bronchiolar disease usually causes wheezing that occurs in the expiratory phase of respiration. The presence of expiratory phase wheezing signifies that the patient's peak expiratory flow rate is less than 50% of normal. Wheezing heard in the inspiratory phase on the other hand is often a sign of a stiff stenosis, usually caused by tumors, foreign bodies or scarring. This is especially true if the wheeze is monotonal, occurs throughout the inspiratory phase, and is heard more proximally, in the trachea. Inspiratory wheezing also occurs in hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Wheezes heard at the end of both expiratory and inspiratory phases usually signify the periodic opening of deflated alveoli, as occurs in some diseases that lead to collapse of parts of the lungs.
Hoarseness (Dysphonia) is a disorder of the voice: an impairment in the ability to produce voice sounds using the vocal organs (it is distinct from dysarthria which signifies dysfunction in the muscles needed to produce speech). Thus, dysphonia is a phonation disorder. The dysphonic voice can be hoarse or excessively breathy, harsh, or rough, but some kind of phonation is still possible (contrasted with the more severe aphonia where phonation is impossible).
Dysphonia has either organic or functional causes due to impairment of any one of the vocal organs. However, typically it is caused by some kind of interruption of the ability of the vocal folds to vibrate normally during exhalation. Thus, it is most often observed in the production of vowel sounds. For example, during typical normal phonation, the vocal folds come together to vibrate in a simple open/closed cycle modulating the airflow from the lungs. Weakness (paresis) of one side of the larynx can prevent simple cyclic vibration and lead to irregular movement in one or both sides of the glottis. This irregular motion is heard as roughness. This is quite common in vocal fold paresis.
Wheezing or Hoarseness is often experienced by pleural mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma patients as the disease progresses.
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