Asthma & Pregnancy: Triggers

Reviewed by David Tinkelman, MD

These are things that may make your asthma worse, especially during pregnancy.

Do not smoke cigarettes and avoid exposure to second hand smoke. Both can make asthma worse and pose major risks for your unborn baby. Learn more about the risks of secondhand smoke

During pregnancy, make a special effort to avoid things you are allergic to (allergens). Pollen, mold, animal dander, house dust mites and cockroaches are common allergens. Learn more about allergies and asthma.

Continuing to exercise while pregnant is desirable, but if exercise makes your asthma worse, talk with your doctor. Using inhaled medication before you exercise can often prevent asthma symptoms while you exercise. Read more about exercise-induced asthma.

A cold, the flu or other respiratory infection can make asthma worse. Good hand washing is the most effective way to avoid the spread of common cold viruses. And the yearly flu vaccine is strongly recommended for people with asthma, and it may be given during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

Sinusitis can make asthma worse, especially at night. Treating the inflammation in the nose and decreasing the post-nasal drip can reduce cough and throat irritation. Sinusitis is often treated with a nasal wash and/or a steroid nasal spray. It also may be treated with an antibiotic. Learn more about sinusitis.

Pregnancy can be an intensely emotional time. Emotions do not cause asthma, but if a person has asthma, emotions can make it worse.

Your asthma may worsen with changes in the weather, especially when they are sudden. You should be prepared to dress accordingly and avoid polluted and/or cold air. Work with your doctor on keeping your asthma under good control whatever climate you live in, whatever the season.

Gastrointestinal or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
In some people the muscle between the esophagus and stomach allows some back flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and may also cause constriction of your bronchial tubes, resulting in asthma symptoms. This is more common during pregnancy and is treatable. Learn more about gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Hormone Changes
You will experience a variety of hormonal changes during pregnancy. These hormones can effect both your emotions and your asthma. Your asthma may worsen, improve, or stay the same while you are pregnant. If you are among the 1/3 of pregnant women whose asthma worsens, you may need additional medication.

Asthma Triggers for Anyone
Learn more about asthma triggers that can affect anyone - not just pregnant women - at asthma triggers and associated conditions.

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