Treating Asthma during Pregnancy

The fetus in your uterus depends on the air you breathe for its oxygen. When you have an asthma attack, the fetus may not get enough oxygen, which can put the fetus in great danger.

For this reason, if you are on a treatment regimen for chronic asthma that has been working for you, do not stop or change your medication before checking with your doctor. Having an asthmatic attack may be more harmful to your baby than the rare chance of the medication harming your baby. Women with asthma that is uncontrolled are more likely to have complications during pregnancy, including preterm (premature) births, underweight babies, and more lenghthly hospitalization after birth. In rare cases, the fetus can even die from oxygen deprivation.

The important thing to remember is that your asthma can be controlled during pregnancy. When you do, your chances or having a normal, healthy pregnancy and deliver are just as great as someone without asthma!

Asthma Medication during Pregnancy

Here is a list of common asthma treatments, and what is safe and unsafe during pregnancy (from Dr. Sears):

Albuterol, the mainstay of asthma treatment, is the most common medication used in pocket inhalers and home nebulizers. Because albuterol can elevate the heart rate in mother and baby, raise maternal blood pressure, and cause changes in maternal and fetal blood sugar, it must be used exactly as prescribed by the physician. Even though albuterol is generally considered safe during pregnancy and is an example of a medication where the benefits usually outweigh the risks, it still is in the “yellow light” category, meaning it needs to be used with caution.

Cromolyn is in the “green- light,” safe category as a maintenance medication for chronic asthma.

Epinephrine-containing products should be avoided unless recommended by your doctor; they are usually used only in severe asthmatic attacks.

Inhaled steroids are considered safe for treating asthma as long as they are used under a physician’s close supervision and in the dosage and frequency advised by the doctor.

For a more comprehensive list, visit this page at emedicinehealth.com.

Avoiding Triggers

The best way to treat asthma is to avoid having an attack in the first place. Avoid exposure to your asthma triggers. This might improve your symptoms and reduce the amount of medication you have to take.

  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking can harm you and your fetus. Avoid secondhand smoke, which can also cause asthma and other health problems in your children.
  • If you have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (for example, heartburn), avoid eating large meals or lying down after eating.
  • Stay away from people who have a cold, the flu, or other infection.
  • Remove contaminants and irritants from your home.
  • Avoid your known personal triggers such as cat dander, exercise, perfumes, dust, food allergies, etc.

feature image from Public Health Solutions

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