21 May 24

Managing respiratory symptoms during pregnancy

Despite being the most common types of adult infectious diseases, upper respiratory infections can still pose a threat in special cases, such as during pregnancy.

In this article, we will explore strategies and solutions for managing respiratory symptoms during pregnancy.

Why are respiratory infections problematic?

Although pregnancy is a normal physiologic event, it is still a moment where the woman and the baby can be very vulnerable, and it is necessary to design strategies to protect their health. This is especially true when infection occurs, as both non-pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical therapies may not be viable because of the risks they pose.

Moreover, respiratory infections may cause further inconvenience during pregnancy, leading to fatigue or malaise, or interfere with breathing techniques in labor.

Management of respiratory symptoms during pregnancy: nonpharmaceutical approaches

If you wish to avoid drugs or medication, it is necessary to adjust your habits to reduce stress and create a healthier environment around you. Rest is key – as it combats fatigue and assists in maximizing air exchange into the body – but there are other elements to take into consideration.

Avoid triggers

This is especially true if you already suffer from allergies or respiratory conditions like asthma. Avoiding triggers and respiratory irritants – such as smoke, pollen, pet dander, mold, or dust – as well as minimizing exposure to strong odors or environmental pollutants can help counteract the onset of respiratory symptoms during pregnancy.

Stay hydrated

Good hydration keeps respiratory passages moist, making it easier to breathe. Humidifiers and vaporizers are also useful to add moisture to the air, which can relieve congestion, so long as you keep them clean to avoid bacteria and mold contamination.

Maintain good posture

Though it is not an active strategy for the management of respiratory infections, good posture can help alleviate pressure on the lungs and diaphragm. To make it easier to breathe, avoid slouching while seated and elevate your head while sleeping with the use of extra pillows.

Another helpful strategy is to practice breathing exercises. We dedicated another article to this specific topic.

Managing respiratory symptoms during pregnancy: when to resort to medication

If respiratory symptoms during pregnancy are so severe to require medication, the first thing you may want to do is to consult your physician or another healthcare provider. A health professional will evaluate your case and consider your history before designing a specific pharmacological treatment.

The most common treatments include:

  • Antihistamines. They are commonly used when respiratory symptoms arise as a consequence of allergic reactions. They are usually administered with food or fluids to decrease gastric upset. Because of their sedative qualities, side effects often include drowsiness and sleepiness.
  • Decongestants. They work on the sympathetic nervous system causing vasoconstriction of mucous membranes. Although generally effective, many oral decongestants have potent side effects and may not be the ideal choice for managing respiratory symptoms during pregnancy.
  • Topical anesthetics. Anesthetics like benzocaine are commonly administered in the form of pharyngeal sprays. These kinds of medication, together with several over‐the‐counter preparations, may be included in combination therapies. However, it is crucial to consider the individual metabolism of certain drugs before starting a treatment.

In conclusion...

When it comes to managing respiratory symptoms during pregnancy, the rule of thumb is to keep in mind that every pregnancy is different. Communicate openly with your healthcare provider about any respiratory symptoms you're experiencing. They are the most qualified people to give personalized guidance and support to help you manage your symptoms safely.

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