World Asthma Day 

ByDr Aditi Singhi (Gynecologist), Apollo Spectra Hospital,  Mumbai

Pregnancy is blissful! But, it can turn into a nightmare, if you have chronic conditions such as asthma. Yes, you have heard it right! Asthma during pregnancy can be difficult to manage. Moreover, unmanaged asthma can be worrisome for both, the mother and the baby. Here, we tell you about the issues in pregnancy due to asthma. Read on to know more about this, and manage this fatal condition.

Pregnant women have a plethora of health problems like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and even asthma.  Asthma is a life-threatening lung condition that causes inflammation of one’s airways. A pregnant woman’s cardio-respiratory system is affected due to this condition. Furthermore, there is too much mucous secretion, and the upper airway will get congested. It will lower one’s quality of life as there is nasal obstruction, and one will not be able to concentrate on work. During the third trimester, a lot of changes are witnessed in pregnant woman’s pre-existing disease. In one third of the pregnant ladies with asthma, symptoms of asthma increase during pregnancy. Controlling asthma is the need of the hour.

What are the problems that pregnant women with asthma can get?

Preeclampsia is a common problem that leads to high blood pressure and organs, like kidneys and liver, will not function at their best. The signs of this condition are high protein content in the urine, changes in vision, and notorious headaches. Not controlling asthma can cause a low oxygen supply to the baby. You will be shocked to know that there are higher chances for premature birth, restricted growth and development of the baby, and even low weight at birth. Premature babies may have life-long health complications or disabilities. There are higher mortality and morbidity rates in such babies.

The causes of asthma: There are various factors that can raise your risk of asthma. Are you aware? Allergens like pollen, molds, pet dander, dust mites, and cockroaches can trigger and worsen bothersome symptoms such as wheezing and coughing. Air pollution, chemicals, sinusitis, cold, smoking, and the smell of perfumes can cause lung irritation and inflammation. Thus, you will have a tough time dealing with asthma. Even having flu, pneumonia, smoking, respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV), genetics, stress, certain medication, and pet dander can be the culprits.

The signs and symptoms of asthma:  coughing even while sleeping, breathing problems, feeling tired while exercising,  sneezing, cold, runny nose, wheezing, chest tightness,  nasal congestion, sore throat, weight loss, and headache, chest tightness, inability to walk, dizziness, confusion and gasping for air. You need to consult the doctor when you notice these red-flags. Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) help measure airflow into and out of your lungs. This test can be helpful for patients with asthma.

How to manage asthma?

Keep your home clean from dust and dirt. Avoid having pets at home as they can aggravate your condition. Maintain good personal hygiene by washing your hands regularly. Do not use any harsh chemical cleaners, sprays, powders, perfumes, or other products with a strong fragrance. Try to use a humidifier at home so that you can breathe freely.

Meet your doctor who may prescribe medicines like bronchodilator, inhaler,  anti allergic tablets and sometimes steroids depending upon the severity of symptoms.Doctor will  assess  the risk to foetus and mother due to asthma with or without treatment.

The last word:  A pregnant woman needs to get her health checked and manage all the complications before conceiving. Try to follow a well-balanced diet, exercise daily, stay stress-free , maintain an optimum weight in order to control asthma and lead a healthy life.

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