High pitched breath sounds are whistling sounds in the airways caused by air being forced through passageways narrowed by secretions or another mechanical or functional obstruction.
Sibilant rale, sibilant rhonchi, high pitched rhonchi, high pitched breathing sounds.
When the airways are blocked or narrowed by inflammation, secretions, a foreign object, mass, swelling or spasm, the breath sounds become noisy. If the high pitched breath sounds are a sign of difficulty breathing then immediate medial attention is required.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction)
Burns (inhalation injury)
Foreign body, swallowed
Diagnosis and Treatments
A complete history and physical by a qualified provider to assess and treat any underlying condition will be needed to determine the cause of high pitched breath sounds. Additional diagnostic studies may include chest x-rays or CT scan. Treatment will depend on the findings.
Call your provider :
When high pitched breath sounds limit your activities of daily living or if there is any difficulty with breathing of sudden or gradual onset.
For any sudden onset of high pitched breath sounds, especially if accompanied by:
Loss of consciousness
Gasping for breath
Pallor (pale skin)
Cyanosis (skin turns blue)
Coughing up blood
Written by: JC Jones MA, RN Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD Written: November 5, 2007 Last Updated: November 30, 2007 Published By:
Healthline Networks Inc.