Reactive Airway Disease SUCKS!

Mallory giving Pablo a nebulizer treatment. Have you ever heard of Reactive Airway Disease? I hadn’t either, until a year or so ago when our son got this horrific cough that wouldn’t go away. It’s basically just like asthma, except instead of being ongoing, the symptoms come and go and it’s usually triggered by a cold virus. The kids have been passing a cold bug back and forth, and it finally made its way to the boy. So, for days now, we’ve been doing round-the-clock nebulizer treatments and having him sleep in a humid room. Old hat. Easy cheesy. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, every time he gets sick, and it usually passes in a day or two.

Not this time! The other night, Pablo coughed literally all night long. Paul and I were up with him, worried, and I started counting the seconds between his coughs, like I was trying to find out how far away the lightning strike was from me. He was coughing on average, every twenty seconds. Poor kid! And NOTHING helped. We did the nebulizer, I buttered him up with Vicks Vaporub, we had the humidfier going on high, I even gave him the strong cough meds I usually save for emergency situations: Prescription Cheratussin with Codeine! It didn’t do a thing for my poor child.

I rattled off an email to Kaiser at about 4 in the morning, right before Pablo FINALLY stopped coughing and fell asleep. They asked us to come in promptly at nine. Paul pointed out to me that middle-of-the-night emails work WAY better than calling in and sitting on hold for half an hour!

Pablo’s oxygen level was at 90. I thought that sounded pretty good! That’s an A, right? I guess not. Even at our elevation, they wanted him to be above 96. They gave him a nebulizer treatment at the office and then informed us of the new plan: Prednisone!

We tried Prednisone a few years ago when Pablo was too frightened of the nebulizer, and it sucked ASS. It turned him into this psychotic, paranoid, hyped up little toddler. I was NOT looking forward to trying it out again, but…it seems to be doing the trick. Pablo’s still coughing here and there, but no more of that all-night-long business. And he is a bit agitated, but honestly – we’re on spring break, it’s cold as hell outside, and everyone’s sick. I’M a bit agitated!

Fingers crossed that the sun’ll come out tomoooorroooooow, the kids will get better, we can stop the steroids, and manage a trip to the museum before school starts again!

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  1. bianca says:

    Ive been going thru this for the past year and it does suck and I feel so bad for my little boy.when he turned one he got rsv infecction since then every time he gets a cold he gets rad.he is two now and its bexoming harder to use the nebulizer we do pulmocort twice a day for prevention but when he gets the rad we add albuterol which makes him hyper,irritable,cant sleep!he is having an episode as I type he coughs,wheezes,gets a fever-he developed pneumonia back in november so they now do a round of antbcs too just in case and now he is on predsone too..i must add that he was a preemie so definetely more prone to lunng issues..annyways just venting and hoping he will outgrow it some day its heartbreaking to see little ones suffering and having to use all these meds.wish you all the best – bia

  2. Eric says:

    My daughter has it also every little thing with her cats dogs pets common colds soaps sometimes heat I keep hoping she will outgrow this but it happens all the time once a month she can’t even play like she wants or she starts wheezing I was laid off for three months not once was she sick but day care and around other kids not so good

  3. Carla says:

    It does suck. I have it and I’m basically healthy. I’m also an RN. I’m a life-long non-smoker. never had any repiratory problems prior to this. RAD in my case stemmed from an allergy I developed to cats. I’m so sensitive that I can’t even pet a dog who lives with cats. The trouble with RAD is that it can also be triggered by strong scents, such as alcohol, coffee, cigarette smoke, wood smoke, and *cough…Vick’s (I’m also very sensitive to menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary oil). I find that cooler air helps me breathe easier rather than warm moist air, but I tend to be sensitive to heat normally. RADS is also sometimes referred to as occupational asthma because it is brought on by a one time exposure to an irritant.

    Hope he has more good days than bad ones. I have two grandchildren with autism so I understand much of what you are going through.

  4. Barbara says:

    Because of your son’s symptoms, hopefully, the doctors gave you what is needed in case he ever has a bronchiospasm (what happens with asthma patients when their airway completely shuts off). I am not an asthmatic, but when my airway gets irritated from coughing or anything (usually when I’ve had an upper respiratory infection), my throat will “spasm” and when this happens, your can’t get words out and wheeze when trying to breath. This is life threatening and you need to have a epi-pen, an inhaler, and antihistimes ready. When he starts getting to where he is wheezing, you should use the inhaler and take the antihistimes and either call 911 or get him to the hospital. This is preventative to take do the inhaler and antihistimes. The bronchio-spasm will come on suddenly if the airway has been irritated and can happen to anyone, especially people who are allergic and tend to itch and swell easily. Once the airway is shut down with the bronchiospasm, a trachiotomy needs to be done. So if you can predict that this problem is coming on by treating when you hear the wheezing or if he has a problem talking (this means the throat is starting to spasm if the words are interrmittent) or breathing in, then you could prevent the emt’s from doing a trach. My doctor said to do all these things if I think I am closing off, INCLUDING the epi-pen and then get to a hospital right away as it is a medical emergency. The epi-pen works immediately to calm things down, but only lasts about 20 minutes. The antihistimes will last about 2 hours and, in an emergency, I use two tablets of 50 mg. But you should talk to your doctor and ask him if you should do what I said. I would be prepared if I were you.

  5. shannon says:

    I have been told my 4year old son has a reactive airway. It is only when he has a cold or virus. It has been over a year and a half since this was aproblem, but it is back again.It seems to be a problem at night. We use the puffer and prop him up at night but he coughs non stop. The coughing turn more into an attack that where he can barely breath and he will even start gaging and throwing up a thick phlem. We have had to call 911 a few times. It will go on all night like that. The cold air helps calm it. he is sick right now and last night we gave a dose of mexamethasone and he slept on his stomach up right on me. It helped, he slept all night. That is what the hosptal has given him before. It scares us to death and we end up sick from no sleep. I am sure tonight will be another rough night cause he is coughing alot today.

  6. Carol says:

    I am seventy-eight years old and have lived with this hyper-airway curse for many years.
    There doesn’t seem to be a cure . . . but I feel sorry for the children who must live with it.
    It does make one’s life very difficult, coughing everywhere at every air change, movies, church, etc..
    Even my doctor is getting frustrated! Bless all of you who are doing your best.