Reactive Airway Disease, Child

ExitCare ImageReactive airway disease happens when a child's lungs overreact to something. It causes your child to wheeze. Reactive airway disease cannot be cured, but it can usually be controlled.


  • Watch for warning signs of an attack:

  • Skin "sucks in" between the ribs when the child breathes in.

  • Poor feeding, irritability, or sweating.

  • Feeling sick to his or her stomach (nausea).

  • Dry coughing that does not stop.

  • Tightness in the chest.

  • Feeling more tired than usual.

  • Avoid your child's trigger if you know what it is. Some triggers are:

  • Certain pets, pollen from plants, certain foods, mold, or dust (allergens).

  • Pollution, cigarette smoke, or strong smells.

  • Exercise, stress, or emotional upset.

  • Stay calm during an attack. Help your child to relax and breathe slowly.

  • Give medicines as told by your doctor.

  • Family members should learn how to give a medicine shot to treat a severe allergic reaction.

  • Schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor. Ask your doctor how to use your child's medicines to avoid or stop severe attacks.


  • The usual medicines do not stop your child's wheezing, or there is more coughing.

  • Your child has a temperature by mouth above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • Your child has muscle aches or chest pain.

  • Your child's spit up (sputum) is yellow, green, gray, bloody, or thick.

  • Your child has a rash, itching, or puffiness (swelling) from his or her medicine.

  • Your child has trouble breathing. Your child cannot speak or cry. Your child grunts with each breath.

  • Your child's skin seems to "suck in" between the ribs when he or she breathes in.

  • Your child is not acting normally, passes out (faints), or has blue lips.

  • A medicine shot to treat a severe allergic reaction was given. Get help even if your child seems to be better after the shot was given.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your child's condition.

  • Will get help right away if your child is not doing well or gets worse.