It is a little discomfort for a person to cough under normal circumstances. When a woman becomes pregnant, simple discomforts such as coughing can also cause her serious problems.
Has cough during pregnancy ruined the happy days of your pregnancy? Are you worried about the effects of a dry cough in pregnancy on the health of your fetus? If your answer to the above questions is yes, reading the article below is all you need!
What is a Dry Cough in Pregnancy?
A dry (unproductive) cough is a cough with no mucus in the throat. This complication in women leads to many problems, including sleep disorders and urinary incontinence. Dry cough during the last trimester of pregnancy causes shortness of breath. Weakness and fatigue are also other problems associated with dry cough during pregnancy.
What is the difference between a dry and a wet cough?
The only difference between dry and wet coughs is the absence of sputum and secretions in dry coughs. In other words, a dry cough is a way for the body to expel harmful things from the lungs and nasal passages. This can happen when someone has an allergy or is exposed to something that makes them sick.
Why are Expectant Mothers more Vulnerable to Dry Cough During Pregnancy?
Pregnant mothers are more vulnerable to coughing for various reasons, the most important of which is increased estrogen levels in pregnancy. On the other hand, the immune system is weakened during pregnancy to prevent harm to the fetus, making expectant mothers more vulnerable to coughs and allergies.
What Causes Dry Cough in Pregnancy?
There are several reasons for dry cough in pregnancy, some of the most important of which are:
Allergies: The weaker the immune system, the more prone it is to allergies. However, having this complication does not affect the fetus. Viruses can enter the body through the nose or mouth and cause problems such as difficulty breathing or a dry cough.
Asthma: Dry cough is one of the symptoms of asthma, which is also seen along with shortness of breath in pregnant women with asthma.
Bronchial spasm: Contraction of the bronchioles (small lung airways, also known as the bronchi) can lead to a dry cough. Pet hair, exposure to cold weather, chemical pollutants, and smoking are some of the triggers for bronchospasm.
Gestational rhinitis: Rhinitis is one of the most common complications of pregnancy that causes inflammation of the nasal mucosa, resulting in dry cough during pregnancy.
Weak immune system: A weakened immune system predisposes pregnant mothers to various allergies and infections, resulting in a dry cough.
Heartburn: Acid reflux or heartburn is a common complication of pregnancy that can lead to dry cough in pregnant women.
Symptoms of Dry Cough During Pregnancy
Among the most important symptoms that are observed with dry cough in pregnancy are the following:
- Wheezing and nasal congestion
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
Home Remedies for Coughing in Pregnancy
Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals is one of the best ways to treat coughing in pregnant women. Consumption of food sources rich in zinc also has an influential role in treating dry cough by strengthening the immune system. Getting enough water during the day and eating foods rich in vitamin C such as kiwi, tomatoes, oranges, and grapefruits are effective treatments for dry coughs. Cough drops (syrup) are another method of treating cough and sore throat during pregnancy.
Other remedies include:
- Increasing the humidity in your home by using a humidifier
- Drinking warm liquids such as herbal tea or chicken soup
- Avoiding irritants such as smoke, dust, and strong odors
- Gargling with salt water several times a day
Are Vaccines Effective in Preventing Dry Cough During Pregnancy?
Some vaccines, such as hepatitis B and seasonal flu, are allowed to prevent these diseases during pregnancy and effectively prevent coughs. Hepatitis B, which has similar initial symptoms to the common cold and presents with fever and cough, is a highly contagious disease transmitted from mother to fetus. Getting the flu vaccine also protects the health of the mother and fetus during this time.
Does Dry Cough in Pregnancy Affect the Health of the Fetus?
The short answer is no. In fact, dry cough is caused by weakening the mother's immune system and has no effect on the fetus. On the other hand, the fetus is protected from many diseases by the placenta. However, failure to treat colds, flu, and cough during pregnancy for a long time can affect the cognitive development of the fetus and lead to birth defects.
By following a healthy diet and regular visits to your doctor, you can prevent many of these problems.
What are the Complications of Dry Cough in Pregnancy?
Dry cough in pregnancy, if not treated in time, leads to the following problems and complications:
- Insomnia and other sleep problems are very common in people with a dry cough. Cough weakens the body, and insomnia exacerbates the condition.
- Urinary incontinence is one of the most common and unpleasant complications of pregnancy. During this period, the growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder, necessitating frequent emptying of the bladder and a feeling of immediate urination. This condition worsens if you have a dry cough in pregnancy, and as a result, expectant mothers experience unwanted leakage and urination when coughing.
- Dry cough can cause physical, mental, and psychological stress and thus affect the health of the developing fetus.
- Dry cough is usually associated with malnutrition and inadequate food intake. A dry cough makes you feel weak and tired, and as a result, your appetite decreases. This, in turn, leads to a lack of nutrients needed by the body.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Although you can sometimes reduce the symptoms of a dry cough by eating healthily and taking medication, it is still essential to see a doctor if your cough is accompanied by any of these other symptoms:
- Frequent insomnia
- Decreased appetite
- Fever above 38.9 °C
- Cough with chest pain
- Discharge of colorless mucus during coughing
If none of the home remedies effectively relieve or treat a dry cough during pregnancy and the symptoms persist, see your doctor as soon as possible. Because lack of timely treatment will aggravate the symptoms and further weaken the immune system.
Can OTC Medications be Used to Treat Dry Cough?
The use of over-the-counter medications in the treatment of dry cough is unrestricted. However, before consuming, be sure to remember the following important points:
- Medications used to treat dry cough that are safe to use in pregnancy include acetaminophen, dextromethorphan syrup, and cough drops containing peppermint essential oil or menthol as the main ingredient.
- OTC medications should only be taken if the effectiveness of the medication far outweighs the side effects.
- Excessive use of some medications can harm the health of the fetus. Therefore, to be sure about the type of cough medicine and its dosage, consult with your doctor.
Although dry cough is common in pregnancy, it is still best to control its symptoms and see your doctor if the complication worsens. Following a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and rest is very effective in preventing and treating dry cough during pregnancy.