Pregnancy can make you more susceptible to common illness as your immunity is changing. Not only will you find that you catch a cold or flu faster than usual, but these illnesses may even last longer than they would before. So, in case you feel like you have come down with a bad case of a cough or a sore throat, you may want to consult your doctor as it may be a case of bronchitis.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of bronchitis in pregnant women may be slightly more than in others. Some of the commonplace signs are:
- Difficulty in breathing or a feeling of choking in the throat
- A low fever or a steady rise in temperature
- Sore throat
- Weakness in the body, fatigue, and body ache.
- Chest pains
- Lack of appetite
- Shortness of breath
You may also produce mucous which can be yellow, grey or even clear-coloured.
Diagnosing Bronchitis While Pregnant
The first diagnosis is usually carried out in the form of a physical exam where after noting the symptoms, the larynx is examined for redness and the ribs are examined to detect any swelling. The doctor will also use a stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat.
Although chest X-rays are done to determine the extent of the infection, it may be avoided in pregnant women due to prevent the risk of radiation to the foetus. Sputum (the mucous that is coughed up from the lungs) tests are done to determine if the condition can be relieved using antibiotics. It can also be tested for any allergies.
A different test is conducted to rule out other diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis that show similar symptoms. Pulmonary function tests in which you have to blow into a device called spirometer can be conducted to check the amount of air that the lungs can hold.
An accurate diagnosis is generally obtained from blood tests which detect signs of inflammation and measures the haemoglobin (Hb) and hematocrit (Ht) levels.
Bronchitis caused due to bacterial infection are treated with an antibiotic prescription. However, it is important to exercise caution over the choice of the antibiotic as many of them are considered to be harmful to the foetus.
Some of the antibiotics that are safe during pregnancy are amoxicillin, erythromycin, clindamycin, penicillin, ampicillin, and nitrofurantoin.
Antibiotics like sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim can cause harm to the baby. Also, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim are known to be responsible for birth defects in the baby.
However, if your bronchitis has stemmed from a virus, you will not need antibiotics as they are ineffective against viruses. This kind of infection will get better on its own. However, if the symptoms persist, you may be diagnosed with a bacterial infection and administered with antibiotics.
Timely treatment when the symptoms are first noticed can help prevent bronchitis from further affecting the mother and the baby. Treatments for pregnant women can also be dependent on the trimester they are in.
During the first trimester, a Bioparox drug will be prescribed to reduce inflammation by targeting the infection. In the first trimester, you will usually be given an antibiotic that belongs to the penicillin group.
During the second-trimester cephalosporin antibiotics which are safe for the baby are prescribed. Expectorants like bromhexine, halixol, ambroxol and mukaltin, which help clear the mucous are prescribed for a cough.
During the third trimester, if there is an intrauterine infection, an intravenous immunoglobin therapy is done. Based on the severity and the nature of the condition, treatment for preterm labour or possible miscarriage may also be done.
Proper precautions during pregnancy can minimize the possibility of contracting bronchitis if not prevent them altogether. Here are a few preventive measures that you can keep in mind.
- Stay away from people suffering from bronchitis. Use a mask around anyone who is suffering from a cold or flu to avoid germs.
- Wash your hands frequently to reduce the risk of viral infections.
- Keep away from allergens and irritants like smoke, chemical fumes, etc.
- Build your immunity with proper sleep, exercise, diet, and lifestyle.
Here are a few frequently asked questions about bronchitis.
1. Can You Use Albuterol Inhalers if You Have Bronchitis?
Albuterol inhalers are known to interact with the medications prescribed for bronchitis and may pose a risk to women with underlying heart conditions caused due to high blood pressure and heart rate. They are also known to have teratogenic effects on the baby; in order words, they may hamper the development of the foetus.
2. Can You Use Steroids for Bronchitis?
Steroids are commonly prescribed by many doctors during pregnancy to treat pre-existing medical conditions or allergies and asthma.
3. Can Extreme Coughing Affect Your Unborn Baby?
Coughing can cause physiological stress in the pregnant woman, leading to the release of a hormone called as cortisol. This hormone, when it reaches the placenta may cause adverse reactions on the baby and lead to birth and brain defects or even low birth weight in the baby.
Bronchitis is condition common in many women during pregnancy. While viral bronchitis can resolve itself with proper home remedies and care, it is important to take proper precautions to prevent contracting bronchitis. In case the symptoms of bronchitis do not subside within a few days, you may have a bacterial infection and will need to consult your doctor immediately. Ensure that you stay informed about the drugs and antibiotics that you can and cannot take during pregnancy to prevent causing any harm to the baby.
Also Read: Torch Infection during Pregnancy