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Symptoms and Signs of Asthma during Pregnancy

Doctor's Notes on Asthma during Pregnancy Symptoms, Safe Medications, and Triggers

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. When you are pregnant and have an asthma attack, the fetus may not get enough oxygen, which can put the fetus in great danger. If you took medication for asthma before getting pregnant, you may need to continue taking it during pregnancy. The risk to the fetus from most asthma medications is tiny compared to the risk from a severe asthma attack, and women with uncontrolled asthma are more likely to have complications during pregnancy.

Symptoms of asthma during pregnancy for the mother are the same as those of asthma at any other time and may include wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing. Uncontrolled asthma can make a pregnant woman more likely to experience preeclampsia or high blood pressure (hypertension), which can also put the baby at risk. Symptoms of asthma during pregnancy for the fetus if the mother has an asthma attack may include a greater risk of being born preterm (premature), small or underweight at birth, and longer hospitalization may be required after birth.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Asthma during Pregnancy Symptoms, Safe Medications, and Triggers Symptoms

Symptoms of asthma during pregnancy are the same as those of asthma at any other time. However, each woman with asthma responds differently to pregnancy. You may have milder symptoms or more severe symptoms, or your symptoms may be pretty much what they are when you aren't pregnant.

In general, asthma triggers are the same during pregnancy as at any other time. Like the situation with asthma symptoms, during pregnancy sensitivity to triggers may be increased, decreased, or stay about the same. These differences are attributed to changes in hormones during pregnancy. Common triggers of asthma attacks include the following:

  1. Respiratory infections such as a cold, flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis: Both bacterial and viral infections can trigger an asthma attack.
  2. Cigarette smoke (firsthand or secondhand)
  3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or regurgitation of stomach contents up the esophagus or "food pipe"
  4. Smoke from cooking or wood fires
  5. Emotional upset
  6. Food allergies
  7. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever or seasonal allergies)
  8. Changes in weather, especially cold, dry air
  9. Exercise
  10. Strong smells, sprays, perfumes
  11. Allergic reactions to certain chemicals
  12. Allergic reaction to cosmetics, soaps, shampoos
  13. Allergic reaction to irritants, such as dust/dust mites, molds, feathers, pet dander, etc.

Asthma Attack Signs, Treatments, and Prevention Slideshow

Asthma Attack Signs, Treatments, and Prevention Slideshow

Asthma attacks rarely happen without warning. Knowing the signs of a pending attack could help you prevent an asthma emergency. In fact, acting quickly could save your life.

Click on the next slide to see the warning signs to watch out for.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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