Although bronchitis can be a harmful and unpleasant illness for those people who have it, it could cause more discomfort for pregnant women. For pregnant women, bronchitis can lead to fatal complications during their pregnancy, wherein they may require a constant intake of oxygen to stay healthy.
Since pregnancy weakens a woman’s immune system, pregnant women are more at risk of contracting this illness. For pregnant women, breathing can be difficult as their growing bellies can make it difficult for them to take full, deep breaths. Their breathing difficulty is further aggravated if they suffer from bronchitis, a lower respiratory infection, where they find it even harder to take in fuller, deeper breaths. This is why you need to take better care when pregnant to make sure that you do not get infected with bronchitis.
Pregnant women should immediately visit their doctor if they suspect they have any of the symptoms of bronchitis. However, it is also in their interest to be informed about bronchitis and the possible complications it can cause during pregnancy. Here are some important facts that can help you to learn more about bronchitis during pregnancy.
What Leads to Bronchitis During Pregnancy?
- Viruses - The viruses that create the common cold and flu may also cause bronchitis. The viruses that can cause bronchitis are coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses, and rhinoviruses. Bronchitis can also result from an accumulation of mucus in people having cold and flu symptoms as well as asthma. A person with bronchitis can spread the disease to others through coughing and sneezing. Therefore, this type of lung disease is contagious.
- Respiratory Irritants - Bronchitis can also be caused by chemical fumes, dust particles, cigarette smoke, smog, tobacco smoke, and other chemicals. Smoking while pregnant or breathing in other toxic fumes can cause severe inflammation of the small airways and chronic bronchitis. These irritants can also aggravate existing inflammations in the body. The unborn baby of a mother with chronic bronchitis may develop congenital defects and lower respiratory tract infections, if the mother is not treated properly.
- Prolonged Exposure to Inhalants - Bronchitis can also result from prolonged exposure to inhalants such as ammonia, strong acids, chlorine, and grain dust.
Symptoms of Bronchitis in Pregnant Women
The first symptoms of bronchitis that a pregnant woman may experience include:
- Dry cough - If you have been experiencing dry cough of late, then you need to consult your doctor right away, since it could be caused by bronchitis. Your doctor should be able to run a few tests to confirm if you have bronchitis or not. A speedy diagnosis is vital since you are pregnant and bronchitis is quite dangerous for pregnant women.
- Breathlessness - If you find that you are experiencing breathlessness, then it may be a good idea to get medical attention and consult your doctor right away, given your current medical condition and the fact that you are pregnant. Moreover, getting bronchitis when you are expecting is worrisome so make sure that you schedule a visit with your doctor and get yourself checked out at the earliest.
- Loss of appetite - If you find that you are having an increasing loss of appetite, then it may be time to visit your doctor to check for bronchitis as it can cause you to experience loss of appetite.
- Sore throat - If you have been experiencing sore throat for a while, then you need to get this checked out for it could be something more serious. While there are many health conditions that cause you to experience sore throat, it is the more serious ones that warrant a visit to your doctor. Get yourself checked and find out if you have bronchitis.
- Fatigue, weakness, drowsiness, and irritability – If you find yourself experiencing fatigue, weakness and irritability, then get yourself checked out as it could be indicative of something more serious like bronchitis.
- A gradual increase in body temperature or a slight fever – If you find that you are running a slight temperature, go visit your doctor and after a few tests, your doctor should be able to confirm if you have ordinary flu or bronchitis.
- Noisy breathing – Breathing noisily is an indication that there is something wrong with your respiratory system. So head over to your doctor so that he can determine the root cause of your noisy breathing and help confirm whether you have bronchitis or not.
- Headaches or other body aches – If you find yourself suffering from headaches along with body aches, then it is time you sought medical help to confirm if you have bronchitis. On confirmation, the doctor would further advise you regarding your course of treatment.
While these are symptoms that can be normally treated at home, for pregnant women, these exact symptoms could pose difficulties with their pregnancy. A pregnant woman who has any of these symptoms should seek immediate and further medical treatment. Acute bronchitis usually lasts for about ten to twelve days, but it could easily turn into chronic bronchitis, if the symptoms do not clear up and are not treated on time.
Dangers of Bronchitis During Pregnancy
- Trouble Breathing - Bronchitis is characterized by the inflammation of the bronchial walls in people who have it. Thus, people who have this condition often experience poor oxygen intake in the lungs, which deprives their bodies of their typical and normal levels of oxygen. In pregnant women, chronic bronchitis poses a difficult problem as their lower oxygen levels can also lower the fetus’ oxygen levels.
- Medications May Harm the Unborn Child - A treatment for severe bronchitis may necessitate the use of antibiotics and other strong medications. However, some types of medicine can cause harm to the fetus if taken by pregnant women to combat their bronchitis. A doctor will then typically recommend a safe antibiotic and will advise plenty of rest as part of the treatment for pregnant women. This is why it is important that you consult your doctor to help determine the right medication to take since you are pregnant.Some of the safe antibiotics that can be prescribed by your doctor include:
- erythromycinPregnant women should avoid taking antibiotics belonging to the class of tetracyclines such as minocycline and doxycycline. These antibiotic drugs can cause an infant’s teeth to become discolored. Other harmful antibiotics during pregnancy are trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole since both of these drugs are known to cause birth defects. So make sure that you are taking the right medication and consult your doctor for more information on the kind of drugs you can take to help you combat bronchitis.The use of antibiotics for the treatment of bronchitis during pregnancy isn’t always required. If your bronchitis is caused by a virus, then an antibiotic treatment will not work since viruses are self-limiting and usually go away on its own. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of bronchitis that last for a few days or more, it’s time to consult your doctor to have a prescription.
- Pneumonia - Bronchitis can sometimes be accompanied by a low-grade fever or a slight increase in body temperature. However, it is very important to monitor a pregnant woman's body temperature. If bronchitis turns into pneumonia, the condition could cause a spike in the body temperature that could be harmful to the fetus. Medications used for the treatment of pneumonia may also cause harm to the unborn baby in the case of pregnancy. So make sure that you visit your doctor regularly, so that he can monitor your condition and get the right medication prescribed so that your fetus continues to remain healthy.
- Dehydration - High body temperature is a symptom of bronchitis. The fever experienced by pregnant women with bronchitis may be as a result of dehydration. Dehydration can induce contractions and hence, result in an early labor. In some cases, due to dehydration, the baby may develop severe problems such as neural tube defects or a fatality. This is why it is important that you schedule an appointment with your doctor regarding your rising temperature and the impact it can have on your unborn child.
Make sure that you inform your doctor about your current condition and the status of your health at the moment. Once the doctor confirms that you do have bronchitis, then he would suggest a course of treatment to help treat the same.
- Loss of Appetite - Bronchitis may cause a loss of appetite. However, it is extremely important that pregnant women continue to eat healthy food and maintain high levels of nutrition for themselves and the baby. If they do not take proper quantities of nutrients during their pregnancy, then their babies could have an insufficient amount of nutrients that could affect their health and development. So it is important that you eat well and eat healthy. Basically, what you eat is what your baby eats as well, so make sure that you are taking in a nutrient-rich diet, one that’s loaded on omega-3 and omega-6 and contains all the required proteins.
- Abruption of the Placenta - For some people with severe bronchitis, hospitalization becomes a necessary step. Hospitalization for respiratory infections can be linked to the abruption of the placenta in pregnant women. A visit to the doctor should inform you about the risks associated with bronchitis and what abruption of planceta is all about.
Home Remedies for Treatment of Bronchitis
While you can use several antibiotics to treat bronchitis, there are other easy ways to treat your condition if you are pregnant. If your bronchitis is not that severe, you can use some very effective home remedies to ease the symptoms of your condition. These treatments are also safe for mothers and their unborn babies.
Some common home remedies are:
- Drinking lots of fluids that contain nutritious additives like lemon, raspberries, and honey. These drinks will ease a runny nose and can help in mucus production. While it is common urban myth that lemon actually induces sore throat, the truth is stranger than fiction for lemon along with the other fluids listed above can actually help ease your runny nose and alleviate some of the mucus production.
- Getting plenty of rest to boost your immune system. It is vital that you get the required amount of rest since you are pregnant. Your immune system is already weakened since you are pregnant, so it goes without saying that you need to take complete rest to help you to boost your immune system.
- Consuming raw onions and garlic since these two act as antiviral agents. Chop them up, mix them with honey, and take the mixture two times a day to relieve the symptoms. And while these two do smell a lot, the fact remains that they are effective antiviral agents and as such can help you to deal with bronchitis.
- Place mustard plasters on your back and chest to relieve your chest congestion. You can plaster your back and chest with mustard and this should help alleviate some of that chest congestion.
- Take hot, steamy showers or use humidifiers to ease your cough and loosen the mucus. Using humidifiers can actually help to ease your cough and clear up the mucus. You can also take in long hot and steamy showers and this should help to alleviate some of the symptoms.
- Cut down on your caffeine and alcohol intake. Cutting down on the caffeine is a must since you are pregnant, and the same applies with alcohol as well. Since these substances can have a detrimental effect on your body and your immune system as well, it is a good idea to cut down on both caffeine and alcohol.
- Get rid of certain irritants in your house such as dust or cobwebs. Use germ-killing disinfectants to ensure that you get rid of anything that could irritate your lungs. Motes, and dust particulates can often irritate your lungs, causing you to experience bouts of coughing along with mucus production. This is why it is important that you maintain a clean house so that you can breathe easily.
Other remedies that can be done at home include:
- Rubbing a small amount of Vicks VapoRub on your chest While the efficacy of this method may seem a tad doubtful, the fact remains that rubbing vaporub on your chest does help to relieve some of the symptoms.
- Using a humidifier can keep the room well controlled and prevent coughs and colds. The controlled atmosphere actually helps you to fight off cold and other symptoms associated with bronchitis.
- Drinking teas that are safe for pregnancy - just consult your dietician and find out which tea you can consume safely. There are many brands of tea out there, so talk to your doctor to find out which one is healthy to drink during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, amidst all the other problems, bronchitis only adds to it. In order for you and your unborn child to remain healthy, an advice from a medical expert is necessary. So make the appointment with your doctor right away and make sure that you are upfront regarding your complete medical history with your doctor as it will have a bearing on your treatment and the process associated with it.
And remember to opt for prescribed medication as opposed to OTC variants, since they often come with several side effects.
- Since pregnancy weakens a woman’s immune system, pregnant women are more at risk of contracting bronchitis.
- Pregnant women should immediately visit their doctor if they suspect they have any of the symptoms of bronchitis.
- You could also consider some safe and effective home remedies to ease the symptoms, if your bronchitis is not that severe.