Are you getting colds and coughs more often now that you are pregnant? There is a reason to that- during pregnancy your immune system weakens and you become more susceptible to colds, coughs, flu and the likes. Being sick can worry you about the baby’s health much more than you worry about your own. So, take care ladies, take extra care, sleep well, drink plenty of liquids, and eat healthy. Chest infections are common after cold and cough if you do not take proper care. Here we will know all about Chest infection in pregnancy – what are the causes, symptoms, treatment and what you can do to prevent it during pregnancy.
Chest infection

  • What Is A Chest Infection During Pregnancy?
  • What Causes Chest Infection In Pregnancy?
  • Bronchitis During Pregnancy
  • How Is Bronchitis During Pregnancy Diagnosed?
  • What Are The Symptoms Of Bronchitis In Pregnancy?
  • How Can Bronchitis Be Treated In Pregnancy?
  • Pneumonia During Pregnancy
  • How Is Pneumonia During Pregnancy Diagnosed?
  • What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia In Pregnancy?
  • How Can Pneumonia Be Treated In Pregnancy?
  • Tuberculosis During Pregnancy
  • How Is Tuberculosis During Pregnancy Diagnosed?
  • What Are The Symptoms Of Tuberculosis In Pregnancy?
  • How Can Tuberculosis Be Treated In Pregnancy?
  • How Can I Prevent Chest Infections During Pregnancy?
  • Natural Remedies For Chest Infection In Pregnancy

What Is A Chest Infection During Pregnancy?

An infection in the lungs is called a chest infection and it is common in winter season. It can be of many types, but we have discussed the three as mentioned below:

  1. Bronchitis: An infection in the larger airways is called
  2. Pneumonia: An infection is in smaller air sacs (alveoli), can complicate your pregnancy
  3. Tuberculosis: A bacterial disease which can be active or inactive, wherein active TB can be dangerous

What Causes Chest Infection In Pregnancy?

Some common causes that make you prone to contract chest infections are:

  • Proximity with someone who has an infection
  • If you have been smoking, you can be prone to bronchitis
  • Sharing personal things with someone who has been infected
  • Sharing utensils and food with an infected person
  • Not following essential personal hygiene

Bronchitis During Pregnancy

Bronchitis is inflammation of the large airways that carry air to your lungs. The main cause is viruses – influenza virus, rhinovirus and others. You can catch a viral infection by coming in contact with someone who is having an infection. Other causes include tobacco smoke, air pollution and inhaling chemicals. The small particles can cause the inflammation and irritate the mucous membrane. If you have bad hygiene practices you may get it very easily.

How Is Bronchitis During Pregnancy Diagnosed?

Bronchitis can be diagnosed by your doctor by making a physical examination and asking some questions about your symptoms like how long you have been coughing and what is the color of the phlegm. He may listen to your chest to know if you have wheezing. The x-ray and other tests are usually not required to diagnose bronchitis. However, in some cases the doctor may suggest the chest x-ray, phlegm test.

What Are The Symptoms Of Bronchitis In Pregnancy?

The following are the symptoms which you are likely to feel when you have bronchitis:

  • Cough is the number one symptom
  • Blocked nose
  • Mild fever
  • Coughing yellow or green phlegm
  • Feeling tired
  • Shortness of breath

How Can Bronchitis Be Treated In Pregnancy?

Some over the counter medicines to relieve the symptoms of bronchitis may be harmful to use during pregnancy. The best approach to heal yourself should be to:

  • Support your immune system by taking plenty of rest
  • Keep yourself hydrated by taking fluids like water, soups, juices
  • Take steam to help blocked nose and to loosen the mucus

However, please see a doctor if your symptoms are not improving by these measures.Pregnant woman coughing

Pneumonia During Pregnancy

Pneumonia is inflammation of lungs, it can be in one lung or both lungs. The alveoli gets filled up with fluid. It makes it harder to breathe. Pneumonia is a serious condition and requires treatment with antibiotics. Mostly it is caused by the bacteria sometimes by a virus and rarely by fungi. The most common bacteria which causes pneumonia is called Streptococcus pneumonia. People who have weak immune system or those who smoke are more likely to get the infection.

How Is Pneumonia During Pregnancy Diagnosed?

Your doctor will listen to your symptoms and also listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to know if there is any fluid or rattling or crackling sound. The doctor may suggest the sputum test or chest x ray to confirm the condition. A chest x ray normally confirms it.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia In Pregnancy?

It is better to go to the doctor for the diagnosis if you suspect that you have pneumonia. The common symptoms include:

  • Cough, sometimes coughing thick, creamy mucus or blood
  • Fever and chills
  • Dyspnea(Shortness of breath)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Wheezing
  • Sometimes nausea and vomiting

How Can Pneumonia Be Treated In Pregnancy?

A bacterial pneumonia will be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe the antibiotics, which are safe to use in pregnancy.

Tuberculosis During Pregnancy

Caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB during pregnancy can either be active or inactive. If your body is able to make a defensive system to keep the bacteria from spreading, though still being there, it is known as inactive TB. Though, if your immune system weakens the bacteria can spread, yet it may take some good time, or never happen. If the infection spreads to the lungs and other parts of the body, it is known as active TB which can be of concern during pregnancy.

How Is Tuberculosis During Pregnancy Diagnosed?

A sputum test involving checking the phlegm for the TB bacteria is generally prescribed if you have been coughing for three weeks or more. The test is done in two sittings, and may be followed by a chest X-ray or other blood tests. Do not get wary of getting an X-ray done, as the effect of untreated TB can be harmful than the effect of the X-ray.

What Are The Symptoms Of Tuberculosis In Pregnancy?

Below are some of the common symptoms of Tuberculosis observed:

  • Consistent and persistent cough, that involve phlegm and may even be bloody
  • Cough that lasts for three weeks or more
  • Fever, fatigue, weight loss, and weakness – which are also common during pregnancy
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Chest pains

How Can Tuberculosis Be Treated In Pregnancy?

The bacterial nature of infection makes it treatable with antibiotics. Early detection and proper medicine can cure TB fully, and taking medicines as prescribed is a huge must. You might start to feel better after a few weeks, but the bacteria would be alive and the infection can occur again, hence it is a must to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor.
Japanese green tea

How Can I Prevent Chest Infections During Pregnancy?

Yes, we can take several measures to prevent getting the bronchitis or pneumonia. Follow simple hygiene practices to prevent getting these infections.

  • Follow a good personal hygiene
  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid coming in contact with the sick
  • Quit smoking
  • Take plenty of rest and fluids
  • Get the flu vaccination, talk to your doctor for more information, you can take it anytime during your pregnancy

Natural Remedies For Chest Infection In Pregnancy

Some natural remedies that can help you to treat chest infections are:

  1. Garlic Syrup: Equal number of white onions and garlic cloves with some honey can be chopped and put into a container for overnight. Consume this syrup at regular intervals with some warm water to ease chest infection
  2. Hot Compress: Respiratory problems have long been treated with hot compresses. You can use a warm towel or a hot water bag to help you relieve chest congestion and loosen mucus
  3. Aromatherapy: Essential oils can also help you deal with chest congestion. Eucalyptus oil can help to loosed mucus in the lungs. However, it is recommended to take your doctor’s advice
  4. Green Tea: Green tea helps to relieve congestion and headaches. The antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties and helps combat chest pain. You can also have peppermint tea which will help to reduce congestion and stimulate blood circulation. Read more about herbal teas in pregnancy here
  5. Dietary Supplements: A high fiber diet comprising of fresh fruit juices and whole grains can help combat chest infections in pregnancy. A healthy diet that is low in fats and oils will boost your immune system and keep infections at a bay

Catching colds and cough can be bothersome during pregnancy as your body feels fragile already and coughing can make you feel more uncomfortable and it can stress your unborn baby. A usual cough or cold will not have any harmful effects on the baby in the womb because the placenta will protect the baby with external and internal stress. However Pneumonia is a serious condition and can have deadly effects on your unborn baby. It poses risk of low birth weight, preterm birth and growth retardation in the baby. If you have anemia or asthma, there is a high risk of getting pneumonia. If you get pneumonia when you are pregnant, follow your doctor’s instructions and take good care of yourself at home.