Asthma During Pregnancy: Impact & Possible Solution

Asthma During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a wonderful period in a woman’s life. However, without proper asthma control during pregnancy, it can also become a dangerous time. Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness characterized by airway constriction and inflammation. In the world, millions of women are suffering from this disease. People must exercise special care to manage their asthma during pregnancy for their well-being and the health of their offspring. In the United States, approximately 3 percent to 8 percent of all pregnant women have asthma. During pregnancy, it is the most frequently dispensed lung illness for healthcare professionals.

This blog dives into the effects of asthma on expectant mothers, looks at practical management techniques, and offers data-driven insights.

What Are Some Symptoms of Asthma During Pregnancy?

Some of the signs and symptoms of asthma include:

  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma symptoms are becoming more frequent and more bothersome
  • Increased difficulty breathing
  • The need to use an inhaler more frequently

The Impact of Asthma on Pregnant Women

Pregnant women who have asthma run a number of risks, primarily altered immune responses, hormone levels, and lung function. According to research, uncontrolled asthma can result in issues like:

1. Increased Risk of Preeclampsia

Women with poorly controlled asthma are at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia, a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage.

2.  Low Birth Weight

Poorly managed asthma can result in reduced oxygen supply to the fetus, leading to low birth weight and potential developmental issues.

3. Preterm Birth

 Studies have shown a correlation between asthma severity and preterm birth, with poorly controlled asthma increasing the likelihood of delivering prematurely.

4. Aggravation of Symptoms

Pregnancy-related physiological changes can exacerbate asthma symptoms, including wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, making it essential to maintain optimal asthma control.

Causes of Asthma

Asthma is a complex condition with multifactorial origins. While genetics play a significant role, environmental factors and prenatal influences also contribute to its development. In some cases, hormonal changes during pregnancy can exacerbate preexisting asthma or even lead to its onset in previously unaffected individuals.

Allergens

 Allergies affect about 70% of asthmatic patients. The things that trigger allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, redness, or difficulty breathing, are known as allergens. Pollen, molds, dust mites, cockroaches, and animal dander are examples of common allergies. You can be prescribed an allergy medication by your healthcare provider. It is safe to continue getting allergy shots if you have received them before becoming pregnant. Avoid taking them when pregnant if you haven’t received them, as they may result in anaphylaxis, a dangerous allergic reaction.

Irritants

Environmental pollutants, tobacco smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, cold air, and some strong odors like paint or perfumes are examples of irritants that can cause lung damage. These may also include dust, gases, and chemical vapors that are present in some jobs.

Exercise

Exercise could worsen certain asthma symptoms, particularly in cold and dry conditions. 

As long as your asthma is under control, you should be able to exercise without any problems. Consult your physician if exercising during pregnancy aggravates your asthma.

Infections

Infections such as a cold, the flu, or viral pneumonia can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

Triggers of Asthma

Identifying and avoiding triggers is essential for managing asthma effectively. Common triggers include allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, as well as irritants like smoke, strong odors, and air pollution. Respiratory infections, physical activity, and emotional stress can also exacerbate asthma symptoms.

Dangers to Mother and Child

Poorly controlled asthma during pregnancy poses risks to both the mother and the fetus. Respiratory complications, such as exacerbations and pneumonia, can threaten the mother’s health and increase the likelihood of preterm labor and low birth weight in the baby. Additionally, inadequate oxygen supply to the fetus due to maternal asthma exacerbations may result in developmental delays and other complications.

Breathlessness is a typical pregnancy symptom, even in those without asthma. If you have asthma, you may find it much harder to breathe easily because asthmatics may experience chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing fits. In addition to your personal health, you can be concerned that the fetus isn’t getting enough oxygen.

Possible Solutions to Manage Asthma During Pregnancy:

1. Consultation with your Healthcare Provider

Regular prenatal visits allow healthcare providers to monitor asthma symptoms, adjust medications, and provide guidance on managing asthma during pregnancy.

Open communication about asthma history, symptoms, and concerns is crucial for personalized care.

2. Medication Management

Many asthma medications are considered safe during pregnancy, including short-acting bronchodilators (e.g., albuterol) and inhaled corticosteroids (e.g., budesonide).

Healthcare providers may adjust medication dosages or recommend alternative treatments based on individual needs.

In addition to bronchodilators, methylprednisolone 60 mg IV every 6 hours for 24 to 48 hours may be used for an acute exacerbation. Oral prednisone at a decreasing dose may then be administered. Intravenous corticosteroids should be administered to women undergoing or recently requiring systemic corticosteroids during labor and for a full day following delivery in order to prevent adrenal crises.

3. Allergen Avoidance

Minimize exposure to common allergens by using allergen-proof bedding, regularly cleaning and vacuuming the home, and avoiding contact with known triggers.

Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to reduce indoor air pollutants.

4. Asthma Action Plan

Develop a personalized asthma action plan in collaboration with healthcare providers. This plan should outline steps to manage asthma symptoms, recognize worsening symptoms, and seek medical assistance when necessary.

For instance, the general anesthetic that encourages dilatation of the airways might be used by your healthcare team in the event of an emergency cesarean delivery.

5.  Stress Management

 Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress levels and alleviate asthma symptoms.

Engage in activities that promote emotional well-being and mental health during pregnancy.

6. Exercise and Physical Activity

 Regular, moderate exercise can improve lung function and overall health for pregnant women with asthma.

Consult with healthcare providers to develop an exercise plan tailored to individual fitness levels and asthma severity.

7. Avoid Smoking

  Avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke is essential for managing asthma during pregnancy.

 If applicable, seek support and resources to quit smoking, including counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, or medication.

Conclusion

Your asthma, a condition where your airways narrow and make breathing difficult, may change during pregnancy. Avoiding asthma triggers and taking medications can help manage your asthma. Treatments like inhalers are generally safe to use during pregnancy. 

An all-encompassing strategy that takes into account the special demands of the mother and the fetus is needed to manage asthma during pregnancy. Expectant moms should take proactive measures to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy by being aware of the reasons, triggers, hazards, and useful management techniques. Maintaining medication schedules, changing one’s lifestyle, and working with healthcare professionals are all important for controlling asthma symptoms and lowering its dangers during pregnancy.

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Emily Pham

Infant Teacher

My name is Emily and I am an infant teacher. My aim with this position is to learn how children develop as unique individuals and learn how to support their holistic growth. I am currently a student at San Francisco
State University majoring in Child and Adolescent Development. With this experience, I am hoping to get a sense on whether I want to continue to work in the classroom or if I want to learn the administrative side of education. The experience of working directly with children is gratifying and I wish to create a safe space for children to explore with all of their senses as they develop their own personalities. I hope to be able to help build a strong foundation so that the children can have the confidence and ability to express themselves.