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What causes reactive airway disease?

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Quick Answer

There are no identified causes for a reactive airway disease because the term "reactive airway disease" is just used by doctors to describe breathing problems that are not yet confirmed. It is hard to know if the breathing problems are due to airway hyperresponsiveness, asthma or bronchiolitis, notes Drugs.com. The condition may clear up as a child gets older or may develop into asthma or another breathing disorder.

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Full Answer

Reactive airway disease is a general term that does not mean a particular diagnosis, notes Mayo Clinic. A child has a higher risk of this condition if the mother has asthma, he has a lung infection or he was not breastfed. The signs and symptoms of this condition are similar to those of asthma including trouble breathing, wheezing, cough, runny nose and rapid heart pulse. These symptoms tend to worsen when a child falls sick or during exercises. In most cases, the symptoms come at night.

This condition is common in children because the immune system is still developing, so it's less effective in fighting off colds and other infections. This leads to airway swelling, making the airways small and narrow. These factors make it difficult for doctors to identify the exact causes of reactive airway disease, or the best approach to treat the condition, notes Drugs.com.

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