asthma in pregnancy

Asthma symptoms, treatment during pregnancy

Asthma symptoms, treatment and medication during pregnancy

In this article we will go through asthma, its symptoms then dealing with asthma, its impact on pregnancy and lastly medication and treatment of Asthma.

What is Asthma?

Bronchial asthma is a condition that is characterized by episodes of difficulty in breathing,accompanied by wheezing. It occurs in about 1 percent of pregnant mothers. Breathing becomes difficult because the small airway passages of the lungs. The transport air deep into the lungs undergo spasms. In addition, the lining of these airways swells up and becomes filled with mucus. The body tries to get rid of this mucus by coughing. Hence, an asthma attack consists of difficulty in breathing, wheezing and persistent coughing.

Asthma symptoms, Age and Allergens:

Asthma begins either in early childhood or during middle age. Early onset of asthma is more common in boys while late onset usually happens in women. In most cases, an asthmatic attack is due to an abnormal stimulus in the form of a substance known as an allergen. This is why, it is called allergy condition.

These allergen can be pollen in most of the cases. But mite-containing house dust, feathers, animal fur can be the reason of allergic reaction. Some foods can also work as allergens such as fish, prawns, egg white, yeast or wheat. Allergic reaction produce a substance named as histamine.

Asthma Treatment Plan/Coping Asthma:

  • First is to avoid these allergens. With the passage of time, you will know your allergens. We will add preventive measures for each allergens below.
  • Second is to reduce allergic reaction by taking medicines. Inhaling of sodium cromoglycate is one way. Oral steroid is another but it comes with a cost.
  • Third is the asthma treatment by dilating small air passages. Theophylline is an example. with this, steroids work well for reduction of inflammation in lungs and to reduce secretions.


Preventive measures for Allergens:

Allergen                                                  Preventive Measure

Pollen                                                       Avoid exposure to flowering plants. Keep bedroom windows closed.

Mite(in Dust)                                            Vacuum, clean and shake out mattresses daily. Dust bedroom thoroughly.

Animal Fur                                                Dust bedroom thoroughly and avoid contact with animals

Feathers in Pillow                                     Substitute with latex foam pillows

Foods                                                       Identify and remove from diet.

Asthma symptoms during pregnancy:

Because asthma is a variable condition, there appears to be no consistent effect of a pregnancy on the frequency of asthmatic attacks. It appears that exposure to allergens, the season of the year and even the mother’s emotional state are the more important conditions which decide the course of asthma during pregnancy rather than the pregnancy itself.

In one study, it was shown that 48 percent of mothers showed no change during pregnancy, 29 percent improved and 23 percent deteriorated. The study also revealed that in the same mother, the course of asthma varied from pregnancy to pregnancy.

What needs to be remembered is that the emotional state of the mother throughout her pregnancy is important. This is because it is known that emotional upsets can precipitate an asthmatic attacks. Therefore, it is helpful that the mother develops a good relationship with her doctor. She should also take the necessary precautions referred to earlier to reduce both the frequency and severity of attacks. If need be, she may even have to go on long-term steroid treatment.

If there is difficulty in controlling asthmatic attacks, admission to hospital is required. Don’t underestimate the severity of an attack. Any worsening of the condition can be life.threatening; particularly so in pregnancy.

Asthma Attacks while Pregnant:

Generally speaking, most studies do not show any excessive risk to the foetus if the mother suffers from asthma during pregnancy. However, if there are frequent and severe attacks of asthma during the pregnancy, the baby’s growth may be retarded because during these episodes, the baby may suffer from a lack of oxygen.

The issue that concerns most mothers is where or not the drugs taken to treat asthma will affect the baby. All the usual drugs used in the treatment of asthma, such as the theophyllines, salbutamol and terbutaline, do not have any serious side-effects on the foetus.

Even the use of steroids have been shown not to have any effects on the unborn baby. Experimentally, it has been reported that steroids given in very high doses to pregnant rats might cause cleft palates in the offsprings.

However these findings appear to be confined to rats; and that too only with very high doses of steroids. The asthmatic mum should therefore be rest assured that any medication she takes for her asthma is not harmful to her baby. One word of caution though- avoid any form of self-medication, such as taking cough syrups. Some of these cough mixtures contain iodine and an excess intake of iodine can affect the thyroid gland if the unborn baby.

Medicines for Asthma in Pregnancy:


Corticosteroids. It contains 1% risk but with prolong usage.


Penicillin Sulphonamides: It is good for bacterial infection and totally safe.



Pregnancy generally does not affect the outcome of asthma. A mother can safely go through her pregnancy provided she takes the necessary preventive measures and seek early medical advice in the event of an asthmatic attack.


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