Oestrogen levels during pregnancy increase, making pregnant women more prone to dry cough. The overall immunity of pregnant women also decreases, making them vulnerable to infections, coughs and frequent episodes of allergies. This article will uncover the causes of cough in pregnancy along with the possible home remedies for the condition.
Causes of Cough in Pregnancy
There is an extra burden on the body’s immune system to protect the mother and the baby during pregnancy. A nutritious and immunity-rich diet is required for the immune system to handle the extra load efficiently. If you are not eating nutritious foods in adequate amounts or not taking proper sleep, your immunity may reduce, exposing you to various infections and allergies.
As per a study, the potential causes of cough during pregnancy are:
1. Gastroesophageal Reflux (Acid Reflux)
Backward movement of the food and acidic contents of the abdomen into the food pipe and the throat, leaving bitterness in the mouth. It may occur due to extra-abdominal pressure during pregnancy or due to lower physical activity and improper diet. As per a study, about two-thirds of pregnant women develop indigestion and acid reflux. It is the most common cause of cough in pregnancy, contributing to almost 77 percent of the cause.
2. Bronchial Asthma
As per research, bronchial asthma is the most common chronic disease that complicates almost five to eight percent of pregnancies. The research outlines hormonal and physical changes as the causes of bronchial asthma during pregnancy. It is the second most common cause of cough in pregnancy, contributing to 12 percent of the cause.
It is the bronchioles' inflammation that may result from respiratory viral infections during pregnancy. Immunity is compromised during pregnancy, exposing pregnant women to respiratory infections such as cold and bronchitis. As per a study, physicians commonly encounter bronchitis in pregnant women. It contributes to 7 percent of all the causes of cough in pregnancy.
4. Allergic Rhinitis
As per a study, the prevalence of all types of rhinitis during pregnancy is 10 to 30 percent. The study outlines hormonal imbalances and compromised immunity as the main contributors to rhinitis in pregnancy. As per another study, allergic rhinitis poses a major challenge to the physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
Home Remedies for Cough During Pregnancy
Due to improper diet and inadequate sleep and physical activity, compromised immunity is the main underlying cause of infections and allergies leading to coughing in pregnancy. During pregnancy, home remedies for cough must include eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as zinc.
It must also include increasing your physical activity in the form of exercises and yoga. Quality sleep is an essential component in improving overall immunity. Some of the easy home remedies for cough during pregnancy are:
1. Zinc-rich Foods
As per research, 80 percent of pregnant women are deficient in zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral required for stronger immunity.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C-rich foods like kiwis, oranges, and tomatoes help fight off the infection-causing microorganisms and provide relief from cough in pregnancy.
3. Quality Sleep
As per a study, quality sleep has a positive impact on several immune parameters. It is associated with reduced infection risk and hence protects you from cold and cough in pregnancy.
4. Lemon and Black Pepper
To reduce the discomfort from coughing in pregnancy, you must try sucking a lemon slice with a sprinkle of black pepper powder. As per research, black pepper is essential in relieving discomfort from cold, cough, and respiratory infections.
5. Raw Garlic
As per research, garlic has multiple therapeutic effects. It provides relief from respiratory infections due to its antimicrobial effects. You must eat 2 to 3 pieces of raw garlic (chopped in small pieces) with your meals to reduce the symptoms of a cough.
6. Honey and Basil Leaves
As per research, basil leaves (Tulsi) have multiple therapeutic properties, including immunity boosting and antimicrobial properties. Add basil leaves to your morning tea or consume it daily at your convenience to get relief from cough symptoms.
7. Wear a Cloth Mask to Avoid Allergens
During pregnancy, you suffer from low immunity and metabolic imbalances. This leads to an increased risk of allergies. Hence, you must wear a mask, preferably made of cotton cloth, to avoid allergens such as dust and other pollutants.
8. Lukewarm Water and Honey
As per research, honey is an alternative for antibiotics in respiratory infections such as cough. It is a perfect home remedy for getting relief from the symptoms of cough in pregnancy.
9. Salt and Lukewarm Water Mixture for Gargling
10. Regular Exercise
Exercise improves blood circulation and increases immunity. Being active during pregnancy prevents the risk of infections.
As per a study, dehydration during pregnancy may increase the risk of constipation and impact pregnancy outcomes. Drinking adequate amounts of water keep a balance of minerals in the body and help your body fight infections.
12. Avoid Eating Heavy Meals
Heavy meals during pregnancy may increase the risk of acid reflux, which further aggravate cough symptoms during pregnancy.
13. Do Not Come in Contact With People Having Flu-like Symptoms
You must avoid contact with the clothes and towels of the person or your partner suffering from flu-like symptoms. Doing so will prevent you from contracting the cough and cold.
14. Green Tea
As per a study, green tea consumption during pregnancy may control weight and alter the immune response. Consumption of green tea may provide relief from cough.
15. Golden Milk
As per a study, turmeric milk is an excellent source of antioxidants. It has immunity strengthening properties that will relieve cough symptoms during pregnancy.
What Complications Can Cough During Pregnancy Lead to?
Cough during pregnancy may subside with home remedies and a few over-the-counter medications. However, if it is left untreated or ignored, it may aggravate to cause following complications:
#1 Sleep disturbances
Excessive sleepiness due to weakness resulting from infection or unable to fall asleep due to regular coughing and nasal congestion.
#2 Urination problems
Coughing during pregnancy may put extra pressure on the bladder, making it for the pregnant woman to hold her urine. Leakage of urine can be embarrassing and unhygienic.
#3 Affect on baby
If untreated, coughing may get worse, leading to physical and mental stress. This may, in rare cases, affect the baby or the overall pregnancy outcomes.
Does Cold and Cough During Pregnancy Affect the Baby?
As per a study, a woman having a cough and cold just before delivery or during the early trimester may give birth to a child with congenital disabilities. However, if treated, normal coughing poses no change in the baby. It only affects the mother's immunity and physical status and not the developing baby.
When Should You Consult a Doctor?
Coughing during pregnancy is treated with the right home remedies and prescription medications. However, if ignored, it may worsen, and you must consult your doctor for cough in pregnancy treatment if:
- You are unable to sleep or feeling sleepy frequently
- You are not feeling to eat anything
- You are suffering from a 102-degree fever
- You are facing chest tightness and pain while coughing
- You notice blood mucus from cough
Summing Up on Coughing During Pregnancy
Coughing during pregnancy is normal, and if treated early with home remedies and prescription medications, it will not affect your pregnancy outcomes and your baby's health. If you notice any worsening symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
- Gary A Incaudo, February 2006; The diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis during pregnancy and lactation - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16443148/
- M A Ryabova, N A Shumilova, 2016; Differential diagnostics of the causes responsible for a cough in the pregnant women - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27500580/