Definition – What is a respiratory infection in pregnancy?
Also expectant mothers can catch a cold during pregnancy. A respiratory tract infection often affects mainly the upper airways, i.e. the nose, sinuses and throat. More rarely, the infection also spreads to the lower respiratory tract (bronchi and lungs).
The disease itself is usually completely harmless, but pregnant women still worry whether the disease may affect their baby. Normally the unborn child does not suffer any harm from the mother’s illness. A simple respiratory infection heals on its own after a few days.
The cause of a respiratory infection during pregnancy is an infection with pathogens. In most cases these are viruses, with the rhinovirus being by far the most common pathogen. More rarely, a respiratory infection during pregnancy is caused by a bacterial infection, which must then be treated with antibiotics.
The germs enter the body via the respiratory tract and cause inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, the paranasal sinuses and the throat. An infection is promoted by a pre-damage of the mucous membranes. Particularly in the cold season, our mucous membranes dry out more often due to dry heating air, which makes it easier for pathogens to penetrate.
Is my baby in danger?
In the case of a simple respiratory infection with cough, sore throat and rhinitis, the affected women need not be afraid because there is usually no danger to the unborn child. In addition, the baby cannot be infected by the disease and is not in pain. Even in the case of severe coughing attacks, the babies are protected from strong vibrations from the amniotic fluid surrounding them and do not feel much.
However, caution is advised when taking medication, as not all preparations are suitable for pregnant women. If in doubt, those affected should check with their doctor to see which medicines can be taken to relieve the symptoms. Even in the case of high fever, the affected women should always consult a doctor, as otherwise there is a risk of premature labour. In addition, there is then the suspicion that it is not a simple respiratory infection but a severe flu, which if left untreated can have fatal consequences for the unborn child.
The doctor first diagnoses a respiratory infection in pregnant women based on their symptoms. He then carries out a physical examination in which the nose is examined by means of a rhinoscopy performed with a special instrument (rhinoscope). The mouth and throat are also examined.
This allows the doctor to see whether the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract are inflamed. This is followed by palpation of the lymph nodes in the neck and cervical region and listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. These examinations are usually sufficient to be able to diagnose an airway infection.