10 Ways to Relieve a Dry Cough During Pregnancy

Updated September 21, 2022
Unproductive cough

There are a variety of reasons why you may have a dry cough during pregnancy, such as a virus, allergies or throat irritants. It is important to know the cause of your dry cough so you can get some relief with appropriate treatment.

A dry cough is a non-productive cough, which means it does not produce any mucus or phlegm. For the most part, it is an irritating, tickling sensation in the throat. A dry cough may occur when there are unwanted irritants or microbes in the breathing passages. The cough is a reaction to help clear out these passages.

Possible Causes of a Dry Cough During Pregnancy

Women may experience a dry cough during any stage of pregnancy, but some women complain about the problem increasing during the last stages of pregnancy, as breathing becomes more difficult. It is important to know what causes a dry cough during pregnancy and how can it be treated.

Reasons you may contract an unproductive dry cough during pregnancy include:

  • A dry cough may be caused by the common cold or viral infection. The virus is an irritant that causes coughing and usually becomes worse at night. Many pregnant women experience cold symptoms during pregnancy, which can lead to both productive and unproductive coughs.
  • Allergies can cause a dry cough due to the irritants and allergens in the air that can affect your breathing passages.
  • Asthma sufferers can experience unproductive coughs and breathing difficulties.
  • Bronchospasm is over-activity in the muscles of the bronchioles, which can occur during an allergic reaction to food or an insect bite. This can also occur if you have chronic bronchitis, asthma, or anaphylaxis (hypersensitivity to foreign proteins or other substances).
  • Rhinitis of pregnancy is a condition where elevated estrogen levels cause inflammation of the mucus membranes inside the nose, which can lead to a dry cough.
  • A weakened immune system can make you susceptible to infections, which can lead to a dry cough.
  • Acid reflux and heartburn can contribute to a dry cough as well.

How to Treat Dry Cough During Pregnancy

When you are dealing with a dry cough, your treatment will depend on the cause. You will need to discuss this with your doctor and wait until your doctor advises you on how to treat your dry cough before taking any over-the-counter medications or even trying any home remedies to treat the cough yourself.

Medication

Your doctor may recommend some over-the-counter medications to relieve your cough.

  • Hard candy or natural cough drops can be soothing to the throat.
  • Only take cough syrups (suppressant or expectorant), anesthetic sore throat lozenges, and cough drops if approved by your doctor.

Food

You can try these soothing foods:

Drink

Plenty of drinks can subdue a sore throat and help calm a cough.

  • Drinking warm water with honey or lemon can soothe your throat and help alleviate the coughing.
  • Drinking tea such as chamomile or ginger with honey may help.
  • Staying hydrated is important. Becoming dehydrated could worsen your symptoms and affect your immune system.

Additional Home Remedies

Other ways to help alleviate symptoms include:

  • Gargling with warm salt water is a very effective way to treat a dry cough.
  • Getting your rest. Taking naps, if necessary, and getting a good night's sleep.
  • Keeping your head elevated. The coughing will most likely become worse if you lie flat.
  • Staying away from potential irritants and known allergens that may trigger your dry cough.
  • Staying away from anyone who has a virus.
  • Staying upright after eating can help with potential acid reflux, which in turn can cause a cough.
  • Using a humidifier in your room may help if you have any congestion with the cough.

A dry cough can be irritating, no matter what stage of pregnancy. Be sure to communicate with your doctor. That is the best way to ensure that you are getting the right treatment for your symptoms.

Possible Complications and Risks from a Dry Cough

A dry cough may become serious enough to cause complications, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. These complications include:

  • Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns may happen when the coughing episodes occur at night and affect your sleep, which can in turn affect your overall health.
  • Urinary incontinence is not unusual during pregnancy, but it can become severe with a dry cough.
  • Reduced appetite is associated with a dry cough which could lead to nutritional deficiencies.
  • A dry cough can also cause physical, emotional, and mental stress.

In addition to these complications, you may have other questions and concerns about your dry cough. Your healthcare provider is always the best source for personalized guidance. These are common questions that you may want to discuss.

Is It COVID?

COVID diagnosis in pregnancy usually runs its course and the pregnancy continues to term without complication. However, pregnant people do have a higher incidence of complications and treatment options are limited, so it's important to know the symptoms and when to notify your doctor.

Symptoms and Testing

As you probably well know, COVID can have no symptoms at all, can be extremely severe or anywhere in between. A dry cough with or without fever could point to a COVID infection, so testing at home or with your provider is always a good option. Other symptoms include loss of taste/smell, stomach upset, diarrhea, runny nose and headache. Keep tests on hand to give yourself peace of mind and your doctor important information.

Risk Factors

Pregnant people with these factors are at a higher risk for developing severe COVID symptoms:

  • Diabetes
  • Maternal age over 40 years
  • Obesity
  • Third trimester

If you are concerned about COVID, test early and often and keep your doctor updated.

Is it Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory bacterial infection. The cough associated with the whooping cough is uncontrollable hacking with a high-pitched "whoop" sound. A runny nose, congestion and sneezing also accompany the cough. Therefore, there is no connection between a dry cough and whooping cough.

Whooping cough is very dangerous to babies, and that is why it is important for pregnant women to get the whooping cough vaccine in the third trimester of each pregnancy. This will ensure that once your baby is born, they are protected until they receive their next whooping cough vaccine at two months old.

Can a Dry Cough Hurt the Baby?

The baby is well-protected by the uterus, which serves as a barrier for the baby. Therefore, coughing of any kind will not hurt or affect your baby in any way. However, it is important that you do not ignore your symptoms because if there's an infection associated with the dry cough, it could spread internally and possibly affect the baby. So be sure to get checked by your doctor at the very onset of your symptoms.

When Should I See the Doctor?

If any of the following symptoms occur, you should see your doctor immediately:

  • Chest pains or wheezing with the dry cough
  • Discolored mucus from coughing
  • Fever of 102 degrees and above
  • Insomnia over an extended period of time
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Persistent dry cough

It is important that you be proactive and consult with your doctor when coughing symptoms first arise. Staying healthy is imperative for the well-being of you and your baby.

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10 Ways to Relieve a Dry Cough During Pregnancy