In a single day, a person breathes an average of 25,000 times. Breathing is what keeps us alive. The cells in our bodies need oxygen to function properly and to grow. When we breathe, our lungs allow our bodies to take in oxygen from the air and deliver it to the bloodstream.
But if our lungs malfunction, our breathing becomes compromised.
Most often, breathing problems are due to pulmonary (lung) diseases, the No. 3 killer in the United States. Millions of people with lung disease have difficulty breathing, due to many disorders affecting the lungs. The most common types of pulmonary diseases include:
· Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – the main forms are chronic bronchitis and emphysema; most people with COPD have a combination of both
· Lung Cancer
· Pulmonary Embolism
· Pulmonary Hypertension
· Respiratory Failure
· Heart Arrhythmia
· Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
As you can see, there are many different pulmonary diseases, and one thing is certain: the number of women developing and dying from lung diseases is rapidly rising in the United States.
Starting with puberty, women’s bodies go through many changes throughout their lives, especially during pregnancy. When a woman becomes pregnant, it induces profound changes, including significant alterations in physiology like her shape and functioning – and this includes the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
If you have a lung disease, becoming pregnant can lead to complications for you and your baby.
For example, if you have poorly controlled asthma, you have an increased risk of premature birth and preeclampsia – a condition dangerous to mother and child involving high blood pressure, swelling in the feet, legs, and hands, and high levels of protein in the urine. Therefore, many doctors recommend you continue to use your asthma inhaler during pregnancy. It is imperative for you and your baby receive adequate oxygen while you are pregnant. Thus, the risk of not taking asthma medication during pregnancy far outweighs any potential danger the medication may pose to your unborn baby.
Likewise, COPD can complicate a pregnancy. Symptoms of bronchitis – coughing, and shortness of breath – can cause you to be more fatigued, which can divert energy needed by the fetus to properly develop in the womb. Your cardiovascular risks may also increase while pregnant with COPD: leading to a higher heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke.
You should discuss your lung disease with your pulmonary specialist. He or she may recommend medication alternatives that will be safe for you and your child while you are pregnant or exercises that can safely combat the effects of the disease. You may also need to avoid environments that can aggravate your breathing difficulties.
To learn more about pulmonary disease and pregnancy, Call Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas today at (817) 594-9993 or request an appointment online.