Reactive airway disease describes a group of symptoms that make it difficult for people to breathe. It is not a diagnosis but a temporary term doctors use to describe the issue until they can determine the underlying cause for the symptoms. Although some people use asthma and reactive airway disease interchangeably, reactive airway disease is different than asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), or emphysema.


1. Triggers

A trigger is anything that activates a condition or causes symptoms. Many substances or situations can trigger reactive airway disease, including chemicals, indoor air pollutants such as smoke, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Stress, exercise, infections, and exposure to extremely hot or cold conditions can also cause breathing problems. Health care providers may temporarily diagnose these problems as reactive airway disease.

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