Pneumonia is a serious disease that can be life-threatening. Pneumonia can be potentially fatal if not diagnosed and treated on time irrespective of developments that have taken place in the field of medical science. Therefore, pneumonia during pregnancy can create severe complications that can hinder the normal progress of pregnancy and healthy fetal development. Continue reading to understand more about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures of pneumonia during pregnancy.
What Is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a serious type of bacterial or viral infection that causes inflammation of the lungs. The infection can affect both or any one of the lungs. The air sacs of an infected individual’s lung are inflated with fluid or pus. The lungs become less elastic leading to breathing issues. Most cases of pneumonia are reported during the winter season. This is because of the damp weather catalysis the thriving of the microbes that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia is definitely a serious condition, especially during pregnancy.
What Causes Pneumonia During Pregnancy?
Due to low immunity during pregnancy, pregnant women are at a higher risk for developing pneumonia. Similarly, during pregnancy, the expecting mothers are more prone to the flu. Any type of respiratory illness during the pregnancy, even if it is a simple cough or flu, could develop into pneumonia it persisted for too long. The lung capacity is also slightly hindered due to the bump and this can also make pregnant women more susceptible to pneumonia.
Pneumonia can develop as an after effect of several bacterial and viral infections like:
- Chicken pox
- Chest infections
- Common cold
Symptoms Of Pneumonia During Pregnancy
The main symptoms of pneumonia during pregnancy involves:
- Severe and persisting cough with phlegm
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties like shortness of breath
- Feeling extremely weak and tired
- High fever and chills
- Loss of appetite
How Is Pneumonia Transmitted During Pregnancy?
There are several means by which pneumonia is transmitted.
- It can transmit via airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected individual. If a pregnant woman whose immunity is very low inhaled these droplets, she may be at the risk of contracting pneumonia
- It is also transmitted through blood, mostly during and just after birth
Who Are At The Risk Of Developing Pneumonia During Pregnancy?
The expecting mother has more chance of contracting pneumonia if:
- She is asthmatic
- She is anemic
- She is experiencing health conditions like sickle cell anaemia
- She used to smoke
- She has chronic health conditions like cystic fibrosis
What Are The Risks Of Pneumonia During Pregnancy?
Pneumonia can affect not only the health of the mother but also the unborn baby. Due to pneumonia during pregnancy:
- Chances of preterm labor increases
- Chances of delivering a premature baby with low birth weight increases
- Pneumonia can cause malformations in the newborn child
- In severe cases, intrauterine and neonatal death also has been noted
- If pneumonia is accompanied by a very high body temperature, it becomes even more dangerous
- Pneumonia during the first trimester increases the chances of miscarriage
If not diagnosed and treated on right time, maternal pneumonia can be fatal
How To Treat Pneumonia During Pregnancy?
Treatment of pneumonia during pregnancy is pretty difficult as not all the medicines usually prescribed for pneumonia cannot be administrated during pregnancy because it may affect the normal development of the fetus and progression of pregnancy.
- Treating pneumonia due to viral infection: This is a much more complicated type of pneumonia. It spread much faster than bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics cannot treat viral infections. Antiviral medications are used to treat pneumonia during the early stages. This will help to alleviate the flu-like symptoms and the spreading of the virus in the body
- Treating pneumonia due to bacterial infection: For bacterial pneumonia, antibiotic therapy is the main means of treatment. The cough suppression medicines are used in case of a severe cough. Doctors usually never try to stop the cough altogether because the cough is the body’s way of getting rid of the phlegm that is accumulated in the lungs
Irrespective of the type of infection:
- Respiratory therapy will help to ease the breathing issues due to pneumonia.
- Oxygen therapy may be needed if the oxygen levels in blood become dangerously low.
- Catching sufficient sleep is important for fast recovery.
- Inhalers and nebulization also help in easing breathing issues like shortness of breath and signs of wheezing.
- The fluid intake should be increased. Stay well hydrated. Otherwise, several significant complications may arise during pregnancy.
- Pain reliever to reduce the pain and fever (like acetaminophen) is also prescribed by the doctor.
How Can Pneumonia Be Prevented During Pregnancy?
To prevent getting the infection during your pregnancy,
- Get Vaccinated
- Good hygiene is essential to prevent pneumonia. Therefore, make sure your hands are regularly washed
- Sleep sufficiently
- Follow a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly. This will help to maintain the lung capacity as well as increase the immunity
- Avoid spending lot of time in public places
- Avoid or limit your contact with sick people
Never ignore or attempt to self-treat persisting cough and flu symptoms. Early diagnosis and timely treatment, can bring down the risk associated with pneumonia during pregnancy. Remember, there is no home treatment for pneumonia. Stay Safe !!