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Reactive Airway Disease (Adults & Children): ICD 10, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Reactive airway disease is a general term for respiratory illnesses that are usually described by a family of diseases that shares an airway sensitivity to chemical, physical, or pharmacologic stimuli.

Occasionally, the terms “asthma” and “reactive airway disease” are used interchangeably, however, they are not the same thing.

Both can cause wheezing, but asthma is ongoing, while RAD may occur only now and then.

Children under the age of 5 are usually diagnosed with reactive airway disease as it can be difficult to come up with a precise diagnosis of an airway condition at such a young age.

Even though it is generally experienced by kids, RAD can occur in adults too.


RAD is a common respiratory disease that is affecting 1 to 18 percent of the population in different countries.

Icd 10 of Reactive Airway Disease



It develops within 24 hours after the inhalation of excessive amounts of non-allergen smoke, dust, and gas, leading to bronchial hyperreactivity.

The chemical agents which are most commonly associated with reactive airway disease are:

  • nitrogen oxide;
  • toluene diisocyanate (a toxic and highly reactive organic compound);
  • inhaled chlorine.

Some conditions which may fall under the reactive airway disease diagnosis include:

  • upper respiratory viral infection – in which asthma-like symptoms are accompanied by chills, high fever, and body aches;
  • pulmonary embolus – it is the sudden blockage of a major blood vessel in the lung and usually occurs in individuals with cancer, heart disease, or who have had recent surgery;
  • irritant-induced asthma – it is a condition that usually affects farmers, bakers, metal workers, grain elevator operators, woodworkers, and plastic workers; it affects about 20 percent of workers with the diagnosis of occupational asthma;
  • granulomatous lung disease – it is a condition that is characterized by the formation of granulomas;
  • aspergillosis of the lungs – it presents asthma-like symptoms that are accompanied by the coughing up of blood;
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease;
  • cystic fibrosis – it is a congenital disease which affects children at a young age;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – it is linked with long-term exposure to toxic fumes or cigarettes;
  • congestive heart failure;
  • bronchiolitis obliterans – it is a lung disease that generally affects younger people who do not smoke cigarettes;
  • bronchiectasis – it is a condition where the bronchial tubes of the lungs are permanently damaged.

Risk Factors

Possible risk factors include:smoking

  • lack of exclusive breastfeeding for less than 3 months;
  • having a family history of asthma or allergy;
  • exposure to irritants which can trigger an allergic response like pollen, dust, pets;
  • lung infection in the recent past;
  • excessive physical exercise;
  • weather changes;
  • smoking habit in the mother while she was pregnant;
  • a regular presence of second-hand smoke around the sufferer.


The symptoms of reactive airway disease may include any of the following:

  • a runny nose;
  • fast heartbeat;
  • a cough;
  • trouble breathing;
  • wheezing.


Possible complications include:

  • side effects from long-term use of some drugs which are used to stabilize severe asthma;
  • signs and symptoms which interfere with work, restful sleep, or recreational activities;
  • hospitalizations and emergency room visits for severe asthma attacks;
  • permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes which affects how well you can breathe;
  • sick days from school or work during asthma flare-ups.

When to Call the Doctor

Contact your healthcare professional if:

  • your child’s wheezing gets worse;
  • your child has a fever;
  • your child coughs up dark brown, yellow, or bloody mucus.


Since RAD is mainly caused by stimuli or irritants, it would be helpful if the sufferer is situated in another location away from such materials or these irritants can be removed.

Your doctor may recommend the following treatments:

Oxygen Therapy

Your child may need oxygen to help him breathe easier. 

There are several different kinds of oxygen therapy:

  • palliative oxygen therapy;
  • ambulatory oxygen therapy;
  • nocturnal oxygen therapy;
  • long-term oxygen therapy – it is used to stabilize oxygen levels for at least 15 hours per day.

Breathing Treatments

Your child may need to use an inhaler or a nebulizer to help him breathe in the medicine.

These treatments can open your child’s airways, therefore, he can breathe more easily.


These drugs help open your child’s air passages and decrease swelling so he can breathe easier.

However, they have many side effects, including:

  • bruising (ecchymosis) easily;
  • thinning of the skin;
  • fragile bones;
  • glaucoma;
  • cataracts;
  • increased vulnerability to infection;
  • weight gain;
  • diabetes;
  • high blood pressure.

Long-Acting Bronchodilators

These drugs help open the airways over time, but, they should not be used to treat the sufferer for sudden symptoms.

Short-Acting Bronchodilators

These drugs are used to relieve sudden, severe symptoms, like – trouble breathing as they start to work right away.

Natural Treatments

Eucalyptus Essential OilEucalyptus essential oil

It has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for many different conditions, and inhaling its vapor can help people with breathing problems such as bronchitis (an infection which results from the inflammation of the lining of the lungs), RAD, or asthma.

Note – place one to two drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of hot water, and breathe in to allow the vapor to enter your nose.

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is produced from the seeds of the flowers of a plant that is native to North America.

This essential oil is rich in an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid, which is converted by the human body into anti-inflammatory substances.



It has more vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) per cup than a whole orange.

According to research, ascorbic acid reduces muscle contraction in your airway passages.

GingerGinger essential oil

According to research, ginger is strongly associated with an improvement in the RAD symptoms most likely since it decreases inflammation.

In addition, ginger contains isoproterenol, a compound that is similar to a type of asthma medication.


Eating 1 banana a day reduces the symptoms since bananas are high in dietary fiber and potassium.

These nutrients lower blood pressure and prevent the formation of free radicals.


They contain high concentrations of both lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, which may have a beneficial effect on:

  • inflammation;
  • acne;
  • hair loss;
  • heart health;
  • lung health;
  • breast health;
  • bone health.

Tomatoestomatoes a

They are rich in lycopene, a bright red carotene and carotenoid pigment found in red vegetables and fruits.

According to a 2017 study, an increased intake of tomatoes could help slow natural declines in lung function in men and women.


The outlook for individuals with RAD is good, particularly once a healthcare professional determines the irritants and makes a firm diagnosis.


Prevention methods include the following:

  • wash all towels and linens in hot water;
  • exercise regularly using mild to moderate techniques like walking, swimming, tai chi, or yoga;
  • wash your hands a few times per day;
  • use a dust cover on pillow and mattress;
  • if you know what caused your wheezing, try to avoid it in the future;
  • use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter for your vacuum cleaner;
  • do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you;
  • if dust and dust mites trigger your RAD, consider removing rugs and carpets;
  • avoid dairy products (such as – milk powder, milk, ice cream, sour cream, cheese, or butter), milk chocolate, fried foods (such as – French fries, onion rings, doughnuts), and foods high in food additives.