Reactive Airway Disease In Children & Adults: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prevention


Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS), also known as reactive airway disease, is a term proposed in 1985 by Stuart M. Brooks.

It describes an asthma-like syndrome developing after a single strong exposure to high levels of poisonous gases, such as – ammonia, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, aerosol sprays, smoke, fume, pollen, mold, perfume and other strong odors, dust, or pet fur.

Cardiovascular disease, structural abnormalities in the lungs, inhaling stomach acid in lungs from the gastroesophageal reflux, and cystic fibrosis, may be another possible cause.

RADS accounts for about 200,000 hospitalizations and more than 13 million health care visits in the US every year.


Your healthcare specialist will ask about your medical history and symptoms. A physical exam will also be done.

Some of the medical tests that may be used in the diagnosis of RAD include the following:

  • Chest x-ray;
  • Blood tests;
  • Mucus samples;
  • Spirometry (the most common of the pulmonary function tests);
  • Pulse oximeter.

Furthermore, your doctor may ask about possible triggers that were around when you developed the symptoms. Approximately one-third of children diagnosed with this condition develop asthma later in life.

Note – If you are diagnosed with RADS, you must identify your triggers so that you can avoid them to prevent symptoms.


  • shortness of breath;
  • sweating;
  • coughing;
  • a runny nose;
  • excessive mucus production, due to an inflammation of the lungs.

Notes – These symptoms mimic asthma (nearly 25 million people in the United States have asthma which is around 8.6% of children and 7.4% of adults), but appear unresponsive to asthma treatments. Besides, individuals with this condition are commonly less sensitive to environmental pollutants as compared to asthmatics.

If symptoms persist for more than half a year, there is a significant risk that they can become chronic.

Treatment Of Reactive Airway Disease


Steroids such as prednisone (comes as a delayed-release tablet, an immediate-release tablet, and a liquid solution), prednisolone (approved by the US FDA in June 1955), and dexamethasone (approved by the US FDA in October 1958) may help reduce the airway swelling, hence, relieve the symptoms of RAD.

Note – These corticosteroids are not the same type of steroid that professional sportives use to make them better at their sports. More importantly, these prescription medicines do not cause the same types of adverse effects as the steroids that professional sportives use.

Oxygen Therapy

It can be given for a short or extended period at home, in the hospital or another medical setting. Sufferers with problems in oxygenation may receive this type of therapy via a face mask or nasal cannula.

Long-term, regular oxygen therapy can notably improve the quality of life for people with this condition.

High-Dose Of Vitamin D

According to research, people may experience a reduction of symptoms by reversing vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin may help lower your risk of contracting colds and is also essential for a healthy immune system function.

Note – According to statistics, up to 50 percent of children and adults worldwide are vitamin D deficient.

Short- And Long-Acting Bronchodilators

These prescription medicines are called “bronchodilators” due to the fact that they open and help relax the muscles of your airways.

Long-acting bronchodilators are used daily and long-term for reducing the frequency of symptoms.

Short-acting bronchodilators work quickly and are used for acute management of these symptoms.


Be Careful At Work

Jobs that have you around chemicals and in dusty conditions can considerably increase the risk of RAD. Wear a face mask.

Clean House

Mould, air fresheners, construction materials, and pet dander, all pose a potential problem. You should also avoid using aerosol products like hairspray and turn on the exhaust fan when you cook.

Change your furnace air filter regularly. In addition, keep the humidity (moisture level in the air) low.

Avoid Smokingsmoking

Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing more difficult. More importantly, smoking causes chronic inflammation and, over time, cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and may also trigger changes that grow into lung cancer.

Additionally, avoid secondhand smoke. Plus, if you work or live with a smoker, urge her or him to quit.

Obesityfat weight loss

Lose weight if you are overweight or obese, or at least don’t gain any more weight.

Lower Your Stress Levels

Stress spurs the sympathetic nervous system to make more norepinephrine and epinephrine and increases the adrenal gland’s production of cortisol. An oversupply of these hormones notably lowers your immune system’s effectiveness.

To de-stress, you can try meditation, yoga, tai chi, or some simple, quiet time. Relaxation techniques are skills that need to be developed with practice and patience so that we can use them efficiently during difficult times of stress later on.

Spend Time Outside

Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D aka the sunshine vitamin. Unlike supplementary or dietary vitamin D, when you get this vitamin from the sunshine your physical body takes what it requires and de-metabolizes any extra.

Adequate Sleep

Sleep is an essential biological function in human beings and is as vital as having a natural balanced and correct diet for a high quality of life.

Sleep deficiency is a common public health problem in the US, affecting people in all age groups who report not getting enough sleep, which is at least 7 hours per night.

Physical Exercise

Swimming, walking, cycling, or just leading a more active life will improve the health of your lungs. It is a well-known fact that the better your cardiorespiratory fitness, the easier it is for your lungs to keep your muscles and heart supplied with oxygen.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Taking diaphragmatic breaths is required to get the much-needed oxygen-rich air deep into the base of the lungs, where there are 300 percent more blood vessels available for respiratory exchange compared to the upper lung region.


Consuming a diet high in vegetables, legumes, and fruits result in the optimal intake of essential nutrients known to reduce the risk of lung problems because plant-based foods are commonly rich in antioxidants that protect against free radical damage.


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