Can I Stop Wheezing Without An Inhaler?

5 Areas To Focus On That May Help You Decrease Inhaler use

Stop Wheezing Without An Inhaler
Can I Stop Wheezing Without An Inhaler?. Photo courtesy of

A patient walked into my office once and asked me if it was possible to learn how to stop wheezing without an inhaler?

I was a little taken a back as this patient had never really asked me anything like this before. When I delved a little more into her story I had a better understanding of how difficult of a time she was having. She was out of breath and was having a hard time breathing. The summer was super hot and where I live summer allergies had been bothering almost everyone– even those without a severe allergic condition.

To make matters worse, she was an asthmatic gardener and being in the garden was making her sneeze and wheeze even more.

While she was disappointed in my answer, I told her that she was not going to learn how to stop wheezing. On the other hand, I thought there were a number of things we could do to get her asthma under better control lessen asthma symptoms such as:

Learn To Avoid Asthma Triggers

While one of the common asthma myths is that moving away might help improve
her asthma control, a much more palatable solution is avoiding asthma triggers such as:

Weather Matters

Where I live in the South, it seems allergy season never ends. At the end of a really long and hot summer we are often in drought conditions that mean more dust and pollen will be in the air when the winds come up.

Severe thunderstorms can lead to to increased aerosolization of fungal spores and pollen. Extreme heat is often times associated with extreme humidity that allows for dust mites and molds to thrive.

Staying indoors can be beneficial or avoiding the hottest parts of the day may help you avoid many asthma triggers.

Additionally, you can check your local air quality at an EPA website.

Manage Pets

Dead skin, droppings, urine, and saliva can all trigger asthma symptoms. While not allowing pets in the home is the most effective method to avoid these allergens, many people do not find this a realistic option. A potential “happy medium” is to declare “pet free” areas in the home. The bedroom is one of the best places to not allow your pet. Other additional ways to manage pets in the home include:

  • Clean your house frequently
  • Avoid carpet in favor of hard wood or laminate flooring if possible
  • Do not choose upholstered furniture if possible
  • Do not pick stuffed toys and animals (wash frequently if you do

Watch Certain Foods

While food allergy is not a common cause of wheezing, you want to make sure you are mindful of the following foods:

  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat

It is important to remember viral illness is a much more common cause of wheezing. With food allergy I would expect only when a patient is exposed to a particular food and that wheezing would occur each time they are exposed.

Breathing Exercises

Unlike the other suggestions in this article where you are avoiding triggers, this is something you can actively do to improve your asthma. Buteyko breathing, breathing exercises were developed by Ukrainian physician Konstantin P. Buteyko in the 1960s, focuses on decreasing both the volume and the number of breaths you take per minute. Through a series of exercises you retrain how you breathe. The exercises have been shown to improve a number of asthma outcomes.


  1. McHugh P, Aitcheson F, Duncan B, Houghton F. Buteyko Breathing Technique for asthma: an effective intervention. NZ Med J. 2003;116:1187.
  2. Bowler SD, Green A, Mitchell CA. Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a blinded randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust. 1998;169(11–12):575–8.
  3. Centers for Disease Control. Asthma. Accessed on August 28, 2014.
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Accessed on August 28, 2014.
  5. Tips to Remember. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Indoor Allergens Accessed May 4, 2014.
  6. Consumer Information. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed May 4, 2014. Asthma Triggers: Gain Control

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