Asthma during Pregnancy: Sign, Symptoms, Risk, and Treatment


Pregnancy is an exciting and beautiful time in every woman’s life. Every day is a new day with changing body and changing emotions. Some days you feel tired and exhausted, while on the other day you may feel energetic and happy. In the ups and downs of your pregnancy period, the last thing you would want is an asthma attack.

Asthma is a common condition that attacks women in pregnancy. Some have asthma as an existing condition before conception, while some women contract it during pregnancy. So if you are suffering from Asthma during pregnancy, it is important to understand signs, symptoms, risk associated with it and treatment options.

Risks of Asthma during Pregnancy

Asthma is a common condition that occurs in every 10 out 100 women, however if not controlled in time can have serious complications in your pregnancy. In pregnancy, asthma not only affects you, but also your baby by cutting down the oxygen supply to the fetus. If asthma is uncontrolled in pregnancy, it can affect you in the following ways:

1} Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure. It generally occurs after the 20th week of gestation. It can also affect other organs like liver and kidney causing them not to function properly.

2} Pre-mature Birth

Lack of oxygen due to asthma can cause pre-mature birth before 36 weeks of pregnancy.

3} Low-birth Weight

Breathing problems for the mother can cause poor development in the growing fetus. This makes the baby have low birth weight when it is born.


Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Before you understand how to control and treat asthma, you need to identify and understand signs and symptoms of asthma which include

  • Constant Cough especially in the early morning or late night
  • Wheezing (whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Tightness in the chest causing difficulty to breathe
  • Shortness of breath in regular intervals

What causes and triggers asthma symptoms?

Now that you know the signs and symptoms of asthma, do you know what causes these symptoms to occur? There are several reasons that can trigger asthma in your pregnancy. Some of the common reasons that can cause asthma symptoms are:

1} Environmental Irritants

Environmental irritants like air pollution, perfumes, paints, cigarrate smoke, and vehicle smoke can hurt the lungs and cause asthma symptoms.

2} Infections

Infections like cold, flu, pneumonia, and viral infections can trigger asthma symptoms in many pregnant women.

3} Allergens

An allergy is a body reaction when you touch, eat, or inhale something that can harm you or cause an instant reaction inside your body. Some of the common allergens like animal dead skin, pollen, molds, cockroaches, and dust mites can cause asthma during your pregnancy.


4} Exercise

It is hard to imagine, but the truth is that in certain cases, exercise can be a major cause of asthma in pregnant women. If asthma is under control, exercise will not cause you any harm in pregnancy. However, if exercise triggers asthma, you should stop it right away.

Asthma during Pregnancy

How is Asthma Diagnosed?

Asthma is a challenging condition to diagnose apart from analyzing the breathing patterns in the body. A lung function test called “Spirometry” can be done to diagnose asthma. This test analyses how well the lungs will work. The machine used measures the amount of air that you breathe out and breathe in. During pregnancy, it is common to have shortness of breath. Hence, in order to avoid confusion between shortness of breath and asthma this test is performed.

Treatment of Asthma during Pregnancy

Like normal people with asthma, pregnant women should also have an action plan to control and treat asthma. However, it is not entirely safe for pregnant women to take all medicines. Hence, the treatment plan for pregnant women is different.  Some of the common and safe treatment options of asthma in pregnancy include

1} Bronchodilator Medication

Asthma relievers which are generally short acting beta2-agonists are taken to control acute symptoms of asthma. Albuterol is the most preferred and safe beta2-agonists to take during pregnancy.


2} Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly called asthma controllers. They include corticosteroids, cromolyn, and leukotriene modifiers. These anti-inflammatory drugs are very effective in controlling and preventing asthma and pose no side effects to the mother or developing baby during pregnancy.

3} Monitoring lung function

Lung function should be monitored continuously for the mother to ensure that the baby is getting enough oxygen. Monthly follows to perform the lung function test and check on symptoms is absolutely essential during pregnancy. Peak flow meter or spirometry is commonly performed to test lung function.

4} Fetal Monitoring

Fetal monitoring is mainly based on maternal risk factors and gestational age. Regular fetal monitoring should be done to check for proper fetal growth and development. Electronic heart rate monitoring which is commonly called “non-stress testing” is performed to assess and analyze the fetal growth and well-being. Intensive fetal monitoring is done during labor and delivery.

5} Avoid Asthma Triggers

Control and avoid asthma triggers to prevent taking medications to treat asthma. Stay away from allergens like pollution, dust mites, pollens or specific food allergies that can set of an asthma reaction.

6} Protection against Flu

Since flu can commonly trigger asthma, it is better to prevent and stay extra protected against flu. It is advisable in some cases to take a flu vaccine to completely ensure that you will not get infected.

Medications to be avoided during Pregnancy


Although some medications are very effective against asthma, these medications are a complete “NO” during pregnancy. The following medications should be avoided during pregnancy

  • Tetracyclines: These medications can cause skeletal deformities in developing fetus
  • Sulfoamides: These can cause jaundice when the baby is born.

Always talk to your doctor before taking or using any medication to treat asthma. Simple lifestyle changes and prevention techniques are harmless and you can follow them without any concern. It is important to control asthma in early stages of pregnancy itself, as the slightest ignorance and negligence can pose serious complications for the mother and baby. If you are suffering from Asthma in pregnancy, it is time to act now!