Morning sickness, constipation, heartburn, sleeplessness, bloating, backaches, swollen feet, and cravings are just a part of the long list of symptoms during pregnancy. Is dry cough one of them? Are you wondering if your dry cough is pregnancy-related? This article explores the causes of dry cough during pregnancy and also compiles some effective and safe home remedies that can provide good relief. So, read on, clear your doubts, and be armed with awareness and remedies to manage the cough.
Causes for chronic or acute dry cough during pregnancy
Coughing is a natural response to expel something unpleasant from your nasal or respiratory passage. With a wet cough, sputum is present, and with a dry cough, it is not. The common causes of dry cough during pregnancy are as below:
# Increased estrogen levels
Several hormonal changes occur in a pregnant woman’s body, including elevated estrogen levels. High estrogen may induce dry cough in some women.
# Immunological changes in the woman’s body
While it is a common myth that the mother-to-be’s immune response decreases during pregnancy, there is little scientific evidence supporting it. However, too many changes are going on in the mother’s body, including physiological, endocrinological, and immunological, and it is too complex to understand why she is prone to certain types of infections.
For example, UTIs are common, and pneumonia, if affecting the pregnant woman, can be severe. Also, C-reactive protein levels are elevated during pregnancy, due to which the body’s immune response can be lower than normal.
So, the bottom line is that a pregnant woman can be more susceptible to infections due to both pathogens and allergens.
# Increased sensitivity
When pregnant, your sensitivity to external stimuli increases, probably because the body wants to be extra careful so that nothing hurts the growing baby. So, your body’s reflex to cough during infection also increases, resulting in chronic cough bouts.
# Acid reflux
Your abdomen grows during pregnancy, putting more pressure on the stomach and causing food and acid in the stomach to go up the oesophagus. And this is a very common and potential cause of dry cough during pregnancy.
# Gestational rhinitis
Pregnancy rhinitis affects between 18 and 42 per cent of pregnant women, and hormonal changes are assumed to be the cause. During this condition, mucus membranes lining the nose become inflamed, causing symptoms such as nasal congestion, itchy eyes, post-nasal drip, and cough.
If you are asthmatic, your symptoms may worsen during pregnancy, including chronic dry cough.
During pregnancy, the woman’s mind and body undergo a lot of physiological, physical, and mental stress. This increased stress can negatively affect the body’s immune system, reducing immune response to infections.
# Exposure to irritants
Irritants such as smoke, pollution, strong scents, etc., can induce cough. Also, dry and cold weather can irritate the nasal passage, causing a dry cough.
Safe home remedies to relieve dry cough during pregnancy
Typically, dry cough is treated with cough suppressants. You may find some relief, but the cough does not often disappear. In addition, home remedies and some lifestyle practices help reduce the frequency and intensity of your dry cough as effectively as prescribed medicines.
Hence, it is better to adopt natural remedies for a week. You may visit a doctor for treatment if it doesn’t get better after a week.
#1 Stay hydrated
You must drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day when pregnant.
Drinking water during pregnancy helps you in several ways, including reduced constipation, better absorption of nutrients, feeling energetic, managing blood sugar and blood pressure, reduced stress levels, improved immune function, and more.
In addition, proper hydration keeps your throat moist and nasal passages less irritated.
#2 Turmeric Milk
Also called golden milk, turmeric milk is a miracle remedy popular in Indian households. Boiled turmeric milk, typically taken at bedtime, soothes the throat and provides cough relief as well.
Bring milk to a boil, then add a teaspoonful of turmeric powder. Heat it on low flame for about 5 minutes. You may also add three cubes of palm candy (Panakarkandu) along with turmeric. Cool it for some time and drink it warm.
Pro tip: Don’t have palm candy? Add a spoonful of honey.
#3 Saltwater Gargle
Gargling is a safe and effective home remedy to curb dry cough during pregnancy. Add half a teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargle thrice a day to relieve a dry cough.
#4 Nutritious Diet
Eating a healthy diet is paramount for both the mother and the foetus during pregnancy. Including foods from all food groups is crucial. Particularly, foods rich in zinc, such as nuts, seeds, fish, dairy, eggs, etc., help improve immune response. In addition, vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, greens, strawberries, broccoli, etc., also help strengthen immunity.
- Pregnancy Superfoods Expecting Mothers Should Include in Their Diet
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#5 Do not eat big meal
Since acid reflux is a common reason for dry cough during pregnancy, avoiding bigger meals and eating smaller portions helps hugely. You may opt for six smaller meals instead of three square meals a day. Also, do not lie down immediately after you have food. Instead, go for a slow walk for about 10 minutes before sitting or lying down after a meal.
A mom-to-be needs plenty of rest to endure changes in her body. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue and stress to both mother and baby. A 2009 study also showed that a tired body has decreased immunity and may make pregnant women prone to infections and allergies.
#7 Herbal Teas and Soups
Anything warm to the throat will help reduce cough. So if you are experiencing persistent dry cough during pregnancy, you may drink teas made with herbs, such as ginger, holy basil, turmeric, and thyme. These herbs have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe the inflamed throat and reduce cough as well.
Soups made with your favourite vegetable or a combination of vegetables, pumpkin, tomato, broccoli, or chicken, all of them do good. Sip them warm. Sip them several times a day.
Pro tip: Add honey when preparing herbal teas. Use spices such as cumin, pepper and ginger in your soups to appeal to your taste buds more.
Exercise helps a pregnant woman stay strong physically and mentally. It can help reduce stress and improves mood. In addition, multiple studies prove that exercise improves the body’s immunity and hugely benefits the mother-to-be’s overall health.
Low-impact exercises such as walking, stationary cycling, swimming, and prenatal yoga are all great exercises during pregnancy, which can help reduce the occurrences of allergies and infections.
#9 Limit exposure to irritants
When travelling outside, where you may be exposed to atmospheric irritants, such as smog, smoke, pollution, etc., cover your nose and mouth with a protective mask. Staying away from other irritants and allergens, such as dust and pollens, also helps.
#10 Use a humidifier
If you live in a dry or cold place, increasing humidity in the house using a humidifier can reduce a dry cough.
When to see a doctor?
- When the cough does not go away in about a week, despite home remedies
- When it disturbs your sleep
- When fever accompanies it
- When you experience chest pain while coughing
- When you have other symptoms, such as loss of appetite
- When you are anxious about the cough
The bottom line
Pregnancy is filled with many emotions, including joys, worries, troubles, and excitement. The journey leading to motherhood, though stressful, is also very beautiful. You must do everything possible to tread through joyfully and safely. Dry cough is bothersome, but natural remedies along with adopting healthy lifestyle practices like a good diet, adequate sleep and exercise can help manage it. But always ensure the remedy is safe for you and your baby.