If you rely on nebulizers to help clear your lungs from viscous mucus, you may have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While these conditions are the most common reasons for regular nebulizer treatments, there are other, less common reasons for wheezing, increased mucus production, and chest congestion. Here are three uncommon causes for wheezing and what you can do about them: 

Acid Reflux

If you experience hoarseness, coughing, heartburn, or wheezing, you may have acid reflux disease. When irritating stomach acid reaches your upper digestive tract, it can lead to severe throat constriction. In addition, when your throat and trachea are irritated, mucus production may be increased, which can heighten your risk for wheezing.

If you feel as though your need for nebulizer treatments is increasing, see your doctor, who will determine if you have acid reflux disease. In the meantime, avoid trigger foods such as chocolate, coffee, peppermint, and citrus juice. Also, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and limiting your consumption of alcohol may also help improve your acid reflux symptoms, including those that are respiratory in nature. 


Certain medications such as beta blockers can also lead to wheezing. Beta blockers are used in the management of hypertension, migraine headaches, rhythm abnormalities of the heart, and panic disorders. Aspirin can also cause wheezing and shortness of breath in certain people, and while these medications may only produce mild symptoms in some people, in others, life-threatening respiratory collapse can develop.

If you take beta blockers or aspirin and still wheeze despite taking your nebulizer treatments, see your doctor as soon as possible. Your medication dosage may need to be lowered, or your health care provider may recommend that you stop taking it altogether. Never abruptly stop taking aspirin or beta blockers without the approval of your physician. Doing so may put you at risk for a dangerous cardiac arrhythmia or blood clot. 


Increased physical activity can cause exercise-induced asthma. This condition can cause sudden wheezing, throat constriction, shortness of breath, and in some cases, dizziness. While a nebulizer treatment can help open up your airway so that an effective breathing pattern can be established, exercise should be stopped immediately.

Exercise-induced asthma can develop in those who have never been diagnosed with asthma, and may become worse during cold, dry weather. If you need to be outdoors when it is cold, lightly cover your nose and mouth with a scarf, or use a face mask so that you are not breathing in cold, dry air, which can be a pulmonary irritant. 

If you experience an increase in wheezing despite using your nebulizer, see your doctor right away. The sooner your condition is recognized and addressed, the less likely you will be to experience serious respiratory problems or permanent lung damage.