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Avoiding Asthma Comlications in Pregnancy

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic obstructive type of airway disease which differentiates itself from other similar illnesses by being reversible in nature. It has become one of the main illnesses contributing to the global disease burden and would be influenced by industrial development, diminishing health habits and unhealthy lifestyles.

How does an asthma attack occur?

Asthma results from the inflammatory response generated in the airways following the exposure to a trigger or a stimulant. The condition will narrow the air passages in the lungs through the spasm of the smooth muscles in the passage wall, swelling of the lining mucosa as well as by the increased mucus production. The event would be known as a asthma attack and will be characterized by a whistling noise, rapid breathing, cough, chest tightness, increased tiredness…etc.

How asthma is significant in the pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a state in which the growing fetus in the mother’s womb will heavily depend on the mothers breathing to obtain oxygen needs. Any compromise to the mother’s breathing can result in a deprivation of oxygen to the growing fetus. The effect on the foetus might be several fold from the effect to the mother.

What are the effects of asthma in pregnancy?

The result can be detrimental as it can cause pre-mature birth, low birth weight and even still births.

Apart from the complications at the level of the fetus, the asthma attack can harm the mother, as it does with any other asthmatic patient and by initiating the development of pregnancy induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia.

How to prevent any complications?

Therefore, it is vital to know how to prevent such complications in order to save the lives of both the mother and the baby. A few, simple steps can guide a mother who’s suffering from asthma to lead a healthy pregnancy and deliver a normal baby. So if you are a mother hoping to give birth, make use of these steps:

1. Avoid any triggers in your house or in your environment –

Eliminating the dust in your surrounding, preventing the pollens from entering in to the home, avoiding close contact with furry pets if you are allergic to animal dander, using the air conditioning appropriately, and letting the sun light illuminate your surroundings are some of the steps you can take to avoid the triggers.

2. Continue taking your medications while pregnant as well as at the times of labor and delivery.

3. Avoid respiratory infections – This could be quite useful in avoiding an asthma attack. Wearing a mask and avoiding contact with people having cold or a cough will prevent you from acquiring such infections.

4. Avoid smoking – This can do much greater harm than any other trigger of an asthmatic patient, especially in pregnancy. You should take necessary steps in avoiding secondary or passive smoke as well. If you develop an attack, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

5. Exercises need to be done under supervision and following advice from your doctor.

6. Monitor your asthma control using a peak flow meter.

7. Avoid medications that can precipitate an asthma attack by acting as a trigger or indirectly contributing asthma triggers to develop. Therefore, drugs such as aspirin and NSAID’s should be avoided if possible, as any acid reflux can lead to an asthmatic attack.

If the signs are recognized early and treatment initiated, the complications can be minimum and the outcome will be positive.