7 Surprising Facts About Asthma

SURPRISING FACT #3

A doctor might call your child's symptoms "reactive airway disease" instead of asthma.

That may be because your child is too young to perform tests that would help diagnose asthma. Or it could be because a child under 5 has mild symptoms or overly sensitive airways but the doctor isn't sure whether it's asthma, and it may be something she could outgrow before adulthood. In other words, reactive airway disease might not lead to asthma.

"The doctor may be trying not to say the word asthma, to avoid alarming parents and because the diagnosis is not certain," says Marjorie Slankard, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University. "But regardless of what it's called, it means that the airways are overreacting to the environment." Even if your doctor refers to your child's condition as reactive airway disease when talking to you, he or she may need to call it "asthma" or "bronchiolitis" on health-insurance forms in order to get reimbursed for treatment.

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