Reactive Airway Disease - I feel misdiagnosed

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New Member

Date Joined Jun 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/2/2014 10:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I wasn't sure where to post this topic, as I do not actually think I have Reactive Airway Disease, but have heard it is very similar to asthma. Anyway.

Two days ago I went to the ER because I have been experiencing worsening chest pain, solely on the left side of the chest, and always within a few inches of my left breast.

This pain began after I bought an e-cigarette. I am a smoker and thought it would help me quit. I was wrong. The very next day my chest felt very heavy, very tight, and didn't quite hurt but something sure felt wrong. I decided not to smoke it again, and within a few days I began feeling better.

So recently, for the past two to three weeks, every time I would smoke marijuana (I have now quit, please do not judge) my heart would start racing, my chest would start hurting, I would become very dizzy and very weak. I would have to get up and move around to prevent myself from blacking out. It took me a couple weeks to figure out that it was, indeed, the marijuana making me feel this way so I discontinued use. Unfortunately, my chest pain did not go away. I have felt everything from burning, stinging, dull, achy, and sharp in this time, and noticed that it gets markedly worse as the day goes on. Side note, I do smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.

Back to my ER visit, I checked myself in with complaints of chest pain, and they ran an EKG and several blood tests. Both of these showed nothing, yet my doctor immediately concluded that I have Reactive Airway Disease and prescribed me with a ventolin hfa inhaler and a round of prednisone.

After researching RAD substantially, I found that I really didn't have any of the symptoms, checking over a vast multitude of sites.
"Reactive airway disease (RAD) is a reversible narrowing of the airways. RAD is sometimes called bronchospasm.
RAD is not a diagnosis. It is a term used until a more specific diagnosis can be made. If the condition lasts more than 6 months, it may be called asthma."

The most common symptom is, obviously, air passages closing up and difficulty breathing. I feel as though I've never felt my airways closing, though I have had some difficulty breathing, but it never felt very prominent; just a little after smoking. I figure that's somewhat normal considering the horrible things you're putting in your body.

Anyway, the most popular symptoms are as follows:
Tightness in the chest
Shortness of breath
Difficulty breathing

I have coughing, sure. Its certainly a smoker's cough, very wet and phlegmy. The doctor told me that DRY cough is associated with RAD.
Tightness in chest occurs only after I had smoked marijuana, which I am no longer doing.
Wheezing? The only time I've ever wheezed was when I had an upper respiratory infection, and not since.
Shortness of breath? Not exactly. I can still breath pretty deeply, pretty consistently.
Difficulty breathing? To an extent, but it usually goes away twenty-or-so minutes after a cigarette, and I've never felt threatened by it.

I am, however, feeling increasingly threatened by this chest pain. It has not gone away and is continuing to get worse.

I have tried the Ventolin inhaler, and I didn't notice much difference in the way I felt after I took it. (Except that, four hours later on the dot I feel as though I suddenly need it, when I didn't feel that way before).

It's the prednisone that I'm scared of. It seems like an incredibly dangerous drug, and the side effects terrify me. I've been previously diagnosed with depression, general anxiety disorder, and gastroesphogeal reflux (which, honestly, never bothered me; I never really had the symptoms of that either, and the omeprazole I was prescribed made me feel sick and, since I had no symptoms, I felt no kind of relief.)

Prednisone is commonly associated with increased anxiety, face swelling, lowering of the immune system (mine isn't so great), mood swings, depression, hallucinations... If I listed them all here, it would be pages. It seems like this drug can have any and every side effect ever recorded, and that terrifies me, because I am not fully confident that I have RAD and do not, do not, do not want to start this medication until I am 1000% sure. I also have a tooth abscess, and one of the side effects is that it can make infections even worse.

Ventolin claims it can give you chest pain (like, seriously? That's what I went to have treated in the first place! Also, chest pain is not a symptom of RAD!), headache, cough, nervousness, tremors, so on.

Also, on the prescription information that was included, it says I need to contact my doctor immediately if I experience chest pain, decreased coordination, fast breathing, fast or irregular heartbeat, pounding in chest, severe or consistent headaches, dizziness, sluggishness...

I cannot stress this enough, I went to the ER for CHEST PAIN. Both of these medications are going to MAKE IT WORSE. I have NO text book symptoms of RAD. EKG and blood tests show NOTHING!

Please, someone help me. I have no idea what to do. This chest pain is seriously driving me crazy, and it's scaring me. These medications are scaring me, too. What do I do? I really need input. I am uninsured/unemployed, and I cannot afford to keep going to the doctor for possible misdiagnoses, and I definitely cannot afford to keep paying for medications I may not need. Any advice? And suggestions? Any ideas of what I'm actually going through, or is this in fact some crazy form of RAD?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5023
   Posted 6/3/2014 5:18 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to the forum!

I wish i could help you, but I know nothing about RAD. None of us are doctors anyway, so take our advice with a whole shakerful of salt.

Have you seen a pulmonologist or other doctor besides the ER? You have a presumptive diagnosis, so that's who you might see to find help.

Personally and not to criticize, but I'd give up the cigs. If I had your symptoms I'd be scared enough. I would also take the prescribed medicines. The possible side effects aren't what everyone gets.

Best wishes. We really do care! Let us know what your own doctor says.

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 9/6/2014 11:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I am dealing with the same situation. I am VERY sensitive to meds as well. Have had shortness of breath for 6 years. Even went as far as to have a Nissen Fundoplication to see if that would help the shortness of breath of which it didn't but it did help my heart racing at night. Just recently got put on Symbicort spray after reaching for my husbands Ventolin which I found I had to take every 4 hours as well but after frequent use I was turning into a nervous wreck and then was told about Symbicort. I don't need to take Ventolin anymore since Symbicort takes care of my shortness of breath episodes but needs to be taken as soon as I feel it come on since swelling gets out of hand and can be hard to get under control. One can take 2 puffs 2x's a day or as needed.  Usually works in about 15 minutes.  Hope that helps. Also seeing an allergist soon so I can find out what my allergy triggers are.

Post Edited (larlar00) : 9/6/2014 10:36:37 PM (GMT-6)

Joan M
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 2052
   Posted 9/7/2014 10:04 AM (GMT -6)   
Well throw that e cigarette thing away! Try to stop smoking. There are books in the library with many helpful hints. The best I read is the rubber band trick. Put rubber bands around the box or pack both lengthwise and width wise. Use at least 2 rubber bands each way. This will make you realized that you are actually smoking and aware of each cigarette.

Find somebody and this is really hard is wants to help you. Most medical people rush in and out. Get a good doc...easier said than done.

Don't give the ER doc so much notice. He/She was rushing along. Take it easy and relax and rethink the whole thing.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2014
Total Posts : 329
   Posted 9/7/2014 3:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Have you thought that chest pain could be related to your reflux? I had absolutely no idea I had it until I had crushing chest pain towards my left breast too. Nothing like how you would expect heartburn to feel. It left my lungs very very sensitive too as I had unknowingly been inhaling acid. Everything would set my lungs off, shower gel, cold air, washing up liquid etc. I was put on inhalers which helped with the inflammation and cough. I've been told I probably don't have asthma just my lungs have become very sensitive and inflamed. I've had a nissen fundo which unfortunately hasn't helped and I'm now back on the ppi to try and ease the chest pain again. Something to keep in mind and I hope you find a solution and start to feel better soon

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2014
Total Posts : 1011
   Posted 9/7/2014 7:27 PM (GMT -6)   
quit smoking! what the heck do you think is causing your problems-duh!

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 9/9/2014 8:49 PM (GMT -6)   
My doctor also put me on Claritin since most asmtha (of which I have only been somewhat diagnoses with RAD from my gastro doc) stems from allergies. So I am taking allergy meds once a day as well as Symbicort 2 puffs in the am and 2 puffs at night. Breathing is finally getting under control in 6 years but I am very sensitive to the Claritin. It makes me drowsy and so I take it before bed. Last night I felt so tired I felt like I was going into a coma. Tried getting up to shake it off. Woke up still not able to stay awake. Would fall asleep sitting up and this was on a 10 mg dose. I am a very sensitive person.

Post Edited (larlar00) : 9/9/2014 9:42:33 PM (GMT-6)

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 9/10/2014 9:49 AM (GMT -6)   
Interesting to note: Before my Nissen Fundoplication surgery I had Bronchitis and had to be put on a Prednisone Pak. Well while I was on Prednisone my breathing problems ALL went alway and I felt normal. Couldn't stay on it of course because of the dangers but I know it worked! I went to the docs and she said that she wouldn't prescribe me any prednisone orally but that she was okay with prescribing it to me topically in the form of a Flovent inhaler two pufffs in the a.m. and two in the p.m. It helped but made me wired and nervous. Couldn't sleep while on it and my personality changed.

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 9/10/2014 8:39 PM (GMT -6)   
Went to my first chiropractic appointment in almost 12 years today. I have been breathing perfectly since getting adjusted today. Before I went I was very aware of my breathing. We will see how far this takes me.

Joan M
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 2052
   Posted 9/12/2014 12:29 PM (GMT -6)   
people who are allergic can be very allergic to drugs too. something to consider.

hope all are doing well.
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