Reactive Airway Disease-Adult

Reactive airway disease (RAD) is a reversible narrowing of the airways. RAD is sometimes called bronchospasm. RAD is not a diagnosis. It is a term used until a more specific diagnosis can be made. If the condition lasts more than 6 months, it may be called asthma.

  • Causes

    It is not clear what causes RAD. It may be caused by a combination of factors including environment, genetics, and biology.

    RAD symptoms are caused by an increased sensitivity of the airways to certain triggers. These triggers cause tightening of the muscles around the airway. At the same time, the lining of the airways swell and produce excess mucus. All of these reactions narrow the airways and make it difficult to breathe.

  • Definition

    Reactive airway disease (RAD) is a reversible narrowing of the airways. RAD is sometimes called bronchospasm.

    RAD is not a diagnosis. It is a term used until a more specific diagnosis can be made. If the condition lasts more than 6 months, it may be called asthma.

    Airways to Lungs
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may ask about possible triggers that were around when you developed symptoms.

    Further testing may be done to look for or confirm the presence of allergies or other pulmonary issues. Tests may be done to look for pneumonia, viral infection, smoke inhalation, chemical exposure, or emphysema.

  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent RAD, since the cause of RAD is not clear.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of RAD include:

    • Family history of reactive airway disease or asthma
    • History of allergies
    • Smoking
    • Obesity

  • Symptoms

    RAD may cause:

    • Coughing
    • Tightness in the chest
    • Wheezing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Difficulty breathing

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include: