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Many pregnant women (particularly those in the first or third trimester) are often seen to complain of breathing problems. One of the most common breathing problems that pregnant women experience is that of asthma (which is a chronic lung disease). This is a pulmonary disease that is seen to affect those women who do not have any history of asthma attacks. In this article, we shall take up the issue of pregnancy-induced asthma and then go ahead and discuss the same in details.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms?
The symptoms of pregnancy-induced asthma are pretty much the same as normal asthma. A woman may experience tightness in the chest which may make her wheeze. An overall shortness of breath is experienced which may cause the pregnant woman to tire out more frequently than she should (even when she indulges in mere day-to-day work which should not be taxing on her body).
In extreme cases, these may lead to overall trouble in breathing and may cause the pregnant woman to cough very violently. It is to be noted here that the symptoms of asthma in a pregnant woman may differ from that in a non-pregnant woman by leaps and bounds. If you are someone who has a history of asthma and you find yourself using the inhaler or rescue medication more frequently than normal, make sure that you notify your doctor about the same.
Why Does It Occur?
Oestrogen and progesterone are hormones that are produced in greater quantities during pregnancy. Doctors have confirmed that oestrogen has a major role to play in the stuffiness of the nose and the sinuses.
Similarly, a feeling of shortness of breath may be experienced due to increased respiratory drive due to the hormone progesterone acting on the body. Indeed, the erratic production of the pregnancy hormones of oestrogen and progesterone makes the process of pregnancy all the way more complicated by bringing in asthma.
Is Asthma During Pregnancy Harmful To The Foetus?
Like every other condition associated with pregnancy, asthma not only puts you at a risk but is harmful to your unborn child as well. Asthma has a direct implication on a woman's blood pressure and not only causes pregnancy-induced hypertension but also results in preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a rare condition that results in a very high blood pressure of the mother that may prove fatal for the kid. Other than this, asthma often makes morning sickness more difficult for the mother in the first trimester and may lead to preterm labour in the last trimester.
It is important for a pregnant woman to realize that if she suffers from asthma it means that her unborn child faces a lack of oxygen supply. This makes him or her susceptible to conditions like low birth weight, neonatal hypoxia and perinatal mortality issues.
The first and foremost point to bear in mind here is the fact that controlled asthma is usually not harmful to the mother or the unborn child. In order to achieve that, doctors generally prescribe two types of medication.
The first is some form of preventive medication that is given to the mother in order to avoid the occurrence of asthma attacks. The other medication is some form of rescue medication that is administered to take care of the situation in case such a situation does arise.
As a treatment measure, pregnant women will be educated on how to monitor the baby's activity during and after an asthma attack so that they can consult the doctor in case they notice anything unfamiliar.
Also, most asthma patients have certain triggers for their attacks. With due consultation with the doctors, these triggers can be identified by the pregnant woman so that care can be taken to avoid the same.
Are Asthma Medications Safe During Pregnancy?
A woman is particularly delicate during her pregnancy and not all medications that she would otherwise opt for are safe to be used during this period. Doctors often recommend the use of inhalers as rescue medication for asthma attacks during pregnancy.
Proventil, ventolin and other types of albuterol are safe for use during most pregnancies. In fact, many pregnant women prefer to use albuterol nebulizers for utmost comfort.
While there is nothing wrong with it, in some specific cases, they may be harmful to the unborn child (by increasing the foetal heart rate) and that is why it is always better to consult with your healthcare provider before starting the medication.
Terbutaline and metaproterenols are safe for the mother and the child as well. It is best that pregnant women keep away from combination products like budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate or fluticasone propionate/salmeterol as they are known to cause complications in some cases. Use of steroids to combat asthma should also be avoided as much as possible, especially during pregnancy.
Thus we see that although there are some medications that are not safe for use on a pregnant woman, most of them are absolutely safe and can be used to bring down the occurrence of asthma attacks on a pregnant woman.
Indeed, the occurrence of asthma is not the end of the world and with a few precautionary measures on the part of the mother, it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy and welcome a normal child.