Bronchitis during pregnancy is not rare. You might even get worried about the health of your unborn child due to bronchitis. Here’s everything you need to know.

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lower respiratory tract, affecting the bronchi which are tubes connecting the nose to the lungs. This condition can make it difficult for a person to breathe. Along with breathing issues, you may also complain about cough, chest pain, sore throat, and body aches. You may develop bronchitis during pregnancy, which is a time when your body goes through a lot of changes. This may make you worry about your baby’s health. Turns out, developing bronchitis during pregnancy may not always harm your unborn child. However, it can cause a lot of discomfort and may lead to some complications during your pregnancy.

What increases the risk of bronchitis during pregnancy?

In most cases, bronchitis begins with a viral or bacterial flu, says gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Sonamm Tiwari. Bacterial or viral infections can cause excess mucus production, hindering the lungs’ ability to purify themselves.
Bronchitis in pregnant women is common, as pregnancy induces a state of immunosuppression. It lowers your immunity and makes you more susceptible to infections. So, viral infections or even a simple flu can lead to bronchitis.

Woman having breathing problem
Bronchitis. during pregnancy is common. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Other things can increase the likelihood of developing bronchitis during pregnancy:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Exposure to chemical irritants
  • A family history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

The symptoms of bronchitis may be more severe in pregnant women than in others, the expert tells Health Shots. They may include:

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  • Cough with or without chest pain
  • Chest congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Fever and chills
  • Body aches
  • Mucus production (yellow, grey or clear-coloured)
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath

Can bronchitis harm your baby?

Bronchitis alone is not likely to affect your baby, but its association with other health conditions or complications may impact pregnancy and the fetus, says Dr Tiwari.

Pneumonia is a common complication of bronchitis during pregnancy. As per a 2018 research published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the incidence of the infection is 1.5 cases per 1000 pregnancies. It is generally treatable if diagnosed early, but if left untreated, pneumonia can lead to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

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ARDS is characterised by fluid leakage in the lung air sacs, making the lungs stiff or small in size. It causes difficulty in breathing and low oxygen levels in the blood. If not treated promptly, ARDS can result in complications like respiratory failure or premature birth.

Also, viral infections are often followed by superimposed bacterial infections. Hypoxia (low oxygen levels) in the mother can result in insufficient oxygen reaching the fetus, compromising the unborn child’s health. These infections can also increase the risk of miscarriage, premature labour and birth.

What is the treatment for bronchitis during pregnancy?

There are medications which your doctor can prescribe, but you can try some home remedies too.

1. Lots of sleep

Getting enough sleep boosts immunity and speeds up the body’s healing process. It empowers the body to fend against infections, particularly bronchitis, says the expert.

2. Drink a lot of oral fluids

Being well-hydrated thins mucus and helps to retain moisture in the respiratory system. This is especially beneficial in avoiding bacterial or viral-induced bronchitis. Warm liquids, such as tea or water with honey, help to ease throat discomfort and soothe it. Honey can relieve cough symptoms and has antibacterial qualities.

Pregnant woman
Make your immune system strong, especially if you have bronchitis during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Adding moisture to the air using a humidifier

Particularly in dry or cold climates, preventing the respiratory system from drying out can be achieved by adding moisture to the atmosphere.

4. Using saltwater to gargle

Gargling with saltwater can help soothe sore throat and decrease inflammation. Gargling can also help remove mucus and allergies from the throat.

5. Honey and lemon mixture

Lemon and honey are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps to fortify the immune system. Mucus may also be broken down by lemon, says the expert.

6. Breathing in steam

Steam helps to reduce congestion and clean the air. This might be especially beneficial if bronchitis is accompanied by sinusitis or nasal congestion.

7. Turmeric and ginger

Turmeric and ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities may aid in lowering respiratory tract inflammation. They may help to boost immunity too.

Contact your doctor if you experience any flu symptoms during pregnancy.

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