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Asthma

Asthma and Reactive Airway Disease

12/04/2007

Question:

What is the difference between asthma and "reactive airway disease"?

Answer:

This can be a confusing area as some times people may mistakenly use the term "reactive airways disease" when they really mean asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease with an unknown cause. Reactive airways disease is also called reactive airways dysfunction syndrome and refers to symptoms that are similar to asthma that occur after a specific exposure, usually at work. Symptoms may be very similar in both cases and in both cases tests of lung function reveal "hyperresponsiveness" or airways that are "twitchy" or reactive to various triggers. Some people with reactive airways dysfunction syndrome may go on to develop chronic asthma. It is important to discuss any diagnosis given by your doctor to be certain to avoid misunderstanding which can affect your medical care.

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Response by:

John G Mastronarde, MD John G Mastronarde, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University