While pneumonia can turn fatal for anyone, one group that has been considered to be at a high risk is pregnant women.
An infection affecting the lungs, pneumonia often occurs as a result of the common cold or flu-related complications. The most common type of pneumonia in adults is the bacterial one, although viruses or fungi can also be the culprits. Pneumonia causes an inflammation in the air sacs of your lungs, which leads to pain and difficulty in breathing. Caused by certain bacterial organisms (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycoplasma pneumonia), community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia seen in pregnant women.
Symptoms To Look Out For
The most common symptom of pneumonia is difficulty in breathing. If it occurs because of a flu, then you may initially experience a sore throat and headache. You may also feel pain or discomfort in the chest accompanied by a terrible cough, fever with chills, fatigue, and in some cases, even vomiting. And since these some of these signs are common throughout pregnancy, you may fail to spot these symptoms as an onset of pneumonia. If you experience any of these symptoms – even if they’re mild – for over a day or two, it’s wise to consult a doctor to rule out of the possibility of pneumonia.
Are You At Risk?
If you are pregnant, it’s important to know whether you’re at risk of pneumonia.1 And here are certain things that could increase your risk.
- If you are affected by asthma and anemia during pregnancy.
- If you have been infected by viral conditions like varicella, influenza, and severe acute respiratory syndrome during pregnancy.
- If you are under a corticosteroid medication.
- If you smoke frequently, you are at risk of pneumonia.2
Your Treatment Options
Traditionally, pneumonia is treated with antimicrobial agents. However, this might not be a safe choice if you’re affected by pneumonia when you’re pregnant. But if pneumonia has been diagnosed early, your doctor may prescribe antiviral or antibiotic medicine that is safe for you and the baby. If you suspect pneumonia, immediately consult your doctor and discuss the safest course of action and be informed of its risks (if any).3
To supplement the medication, ensure you drink plenty of fluids. Hydration is the key to reducing the symptoms of pneumonia. Also, sleep well and get enough rest as stress can increase the severity of the condition.
How To Prevent Pneumonia
If you are pregnant, remember to stay away from anyone who has the flu. If you must attend to someone, be sure to mask your nose and mouth. Simple flu can quickly turn into pneumonia in pregnant women. If you have a weakened immune system due to other illnesses or disorder, it is important to keep an eye out for flu-like symptoms that last longer than a week. If you are anemic, you may be more prone to falling ill.4 Evaluate all of these factors with your doctor to decide on a prevention plan.
Additionally, you can also opt for vaccinations if you’re pregnant during the influenza season. While concerns exist about the safety of the mother and child due to the vaccine or related side effects, it appears that no study to date has been able to establish that these vaccines cause any harm.5 If you live in an area with known pneumonia risk, or if your immune function puts you at greater risk for infection, then consult your doctor about the right vaccine to take.
If you have a persistent cough that is only getting worse with time or if you’re experiencing dizziness and difficulty in breathing, see a doctor immediately to identify or rule out the possibility of pneumonia. Left undiagnosed, pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death – of both the mother and the child.
|↑1||Munn, Mary B., Lynn J. Groome, Jana L. Atterbury, Susan L. Baker, and Charles Hoff. “Pneumonia as a complication of pregnancy.” Journal of Maternal-Fetal Medicine 8, no. 4 (1999): 151-154.|
|↑2||Goodnight, William H., and David E. Soper. “Pneumonia in pregnancy.” Critical care medicine 33, no. 10 (2005): S390-S397.|
|↑3||Lim, W. S., J. T. Macfarlane, and C. L. Colthorpe. “Pneumonia and pregnancy.” Thorax 56, no. 5 (2001): 398-405.|
|↑4||Ekiz, Ceyda, Leyla Agaoglu, Zeynep Karakas, Nuray Gurel, and Işık Yalcin. “The effect of iron deficiency anemia on the function of the immune system.” The Hematology Journal 5, no. 7 (2005): 579-583.|
|↑5||Tamma, Pranita D., Kevin A. Ault, Carlos del Rio, Mark C. Steinhoff, Neal A. Halsey, and Saad B. Omer. “Safety of influenza vaccination during pregnancy.” American journal of obstetrics and Gynecology 201, no. 6 (2009): 547-552.|