Is Coughing A Sign Of Pregnancy?


Did you know that a sudden onset of a cough or cold could also be an indication that you are pregnant? Your immunity weakens when pregnant, and as a result, you are more susceptible to the flu and the common cold. It is normal for pregnant people to have cold or flu-like symptoms (eg., cough) in the early stages of their pregnancies. 

Studies have shown that gastroesophageal reflux, commonly known as heartburn, is responsible for the majority of pregnant cough occurrences. There is a difference in how women experience early pregnancy symptoms. 

If these symptoms begin just after you miss a period and you also suffer from nausea-related symptoms along with abdominal cramps, your body might be showing pregnancy-related signs. Although you should expect to experience these symptoms throughout your pregnancy, occasionally unusual symptoms, such as pregnancy cough, start to appear. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you could feel anxious if you start coughing; nonetheless, it could be a sign of pregnancy. 

It is important to consider other causes if you have a fever, pain, headaches, or diarrhoea. When assessing pregnant patients who appear to have one or more similar clinical symptoms but have an abnormal pregnancy or a coexisting medical condition, knowledge of the clinical spectrum of normal early pregnancy is helpful. It is advised to take a pregnancy test if you missed your period and have a cold or a seasonal cough. In the event of pregnancy (after confirmation with clinical tests), the physician will suggest pregnancy-safe treatment for the cough and cold.

Early pregnancy symptoms include a missed period, increased urination, sensitive breasts, fatigue, and morning sickness. You might feel changes in your body even before you realise you are pregnant, or you might have no symptoms at all. People who are expecting are more likely to develop serious flu-related issues. There is a chance of your baby developing serious health issues if the flu complications are left untreated.

Signs of Pregnancy

Within a week following conception, pregnancy symptoms may start to show. Some people state that they were symptom-free for the first few weeks.

Common signs

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the most common early signs of pregnancy are a missed period, nausea, fatigue, mood changes, changes in breasts, and increased urination.

Missed period - A missed period is the earliest and most common symptom of pregnancy. If your period has not started after a week or longer (than the expected date) and you are in your reproductive years, you could be expecting. Nevertheless, if you have an irregular menstrual cycle, this symptom could be misleading. Additionally, vaginal bleeding or spotting is typically common in the first trimester of a healthy pregnancy and frequently happens at or close to the time that a menstrual period would be expected.2 If a person reports any sexual activity while not using contraception or while using contraception improperly, the likelihood of pregnancy increases. However, it is still possible to become pregnant with contraception as no method is 100% effective.

Fatigue - The NHS states that during pregnancy, especially the first 12 weeks or so, it is common to feel exhausted or fatigued. This is because the hormones in your body change during this period, causing the feeling of being emotional, sick, upset, and exhausted.

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) - In pregnancy, nausea can be with or without vomiting. Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is a prevalent condition that affects 50 to 80 per cent of pregnant people during the first trimester of their pregnancy.3 It usually starts around 4 to 6 weeks. Although this condition is commonly known as morning sickness, the symptoms can take place in the morning or nighttime. Vomiting in pregnancy is considered normal, except if the symptoms are severe. However, vomiting could affect a pregnant person's psychological, physical, and social well-being. If you find that the vomiting during pregnancy is affecting your quality of life, consult your doctor.

Mood Swings - Research has shown that there is a relationship between nausea and vomiting with anxiety and depression in pregnant people.4-5 

Increased urination - Increased urination may indicate pregnancy. You may need to urinate more frequently than usual, even at night. During pregnancy, your body produces more blood, which causes your kidneys to process more fluid, which then collects in your bladder.

Breast changes - Your breasts may become sensitive and painful early in pregnancy due to hormonal changes. After a few weeks, the discomfort should subside as your body gets used to the hormonal changes.

Darkening of the areolas - The American Pregnancy Association states that it is normal for the areolas to darken during the early stages of pregnancy. The areolas are the darker-coloured skin that surrounds the nipple on the breasts. 

Changes in smell and taste - Your sense of taste may change, and you might become more sensitive to certain smells when pregnant. Just like the majority of other pregnancy symptoms, this is most likely the result of hormonal changes. Many pregnant people comment that they have a strange, metallic taste.

Headaches - The most common headaches seen in pregnant people are tension-type headaches, migraine, and cluster headaches.6 However, it is possible for a pregnant person to experience what is known as a secondary headache.6 A secondary headache is a headache that comes from a condition or a complication that occurs during pregnancy (e.g. eclampsia). It is vital to recognize and rule out secondary headaches in pregnant people.6

Unusual signs

  • Elevated heat temperature - An early sign of pregnancy could be a basal body temperature increase that does not return to normal with expected ovulation.7
  • Vertigo - Pregnancy is a normal period for people to feel vertigo and dizziness.8
  • Constipation - Constipation affects 11% to 38% of expecting women.9 Factors that contribute to constipation include psychological factors and biological hormones.9
  • Acne - Acne is found in all groups and genders, including pregnant people. It is a symptom of early pregnancy, but the exact reason is unknown.10
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Congestion

Is Coughing a Sign of Pregnancy?

The American Pregnancy Association states that the immune system is likely to become weaker when you become pregnant. You might experience a cold or a cough at some point throughout your pregnancy as a result of these changes. These symptoms might also last for a prolonged period (chronic). Most people could overlook the seasonal flu or mild fever, which is accompanied by nasal congestion and a wheezing cough, as a sign of pregnancy. However, if you experience nausea, missed periods, increased urination, and abdominal pain at the same time as these cough symptoms, it may be an indication that you are pregnant. The early signs of pregnancy may not be experienced by all people. Also, a cough may go away on its own before you can link it to the early stages of pregnancy. 

If you believe your cough symptoms to be a sign of pregnancy, it is important to prevent self-medication and consult your doctor, as you could cause harm to the baby. It is possible that you have a case of pregnancy cough if you are only coughing, but you are in good health otherwise. As the immune system is suppressed, if you are pregnant, it is important to listen to your doctor’s advice about vitamins and vaccinations to keep you and your baby safe.

What could cause coughing during pregnancy?

There are several causes of coughing during pregnancy. Some of the reasons include:

  • Asthma - One study revealed that 40 per cent of people with asthma have their symptoms worsen during pregnancy. Symptoms that worsened included wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.11
  • Pregnancy-induced rhinitis - This is a type of chronic non-allergic rhinitis that did not exist prior to pregnancy but appears during pregnancy and completely disappears after birth.12 However, this occurs during the last six weeks of pregnancy.12
  • Immune system - Due to the changes in the body when a person becomes pregnant, this weakens the immune system. Therefore if you are pregnant, you might find you are more prone to several infections and can develop a cough.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux - There is an incidence of 45 to 80 per cent of gastroesophageal reflux disease in pregnant people. One study demonstrated that 9 percent of pregnant people with gastroesophageal reflux disease had a dry cough at night.1
  • Heartburn - Many people experience heartburn during pregnancy. Heartburn is associated with gastroesophageal reflux and dry cough.


If you have a cough, a cause other than pregnancy should be considered if you have a fever, pain, headaches, or diarrhoea. Missed periods, fatigue, breast changes, abrupt mood swings, and frequent urination are just a few of the early warning symptoms of pregnancy. Some can mark the beginning of your period, side effects from birth control, or that you are sick. Similarly, you can be pregnant without displaying a lot of these signs. A person should take a home pregnancy test or seek medical attention to confirm if they experience any pregnancy symptoms. 


  1. Le Y-LT, Luu MN, Mai LH, Hoang AT, Nguyen TT, Quach DT. Prevalence and characteristics of gastroesophageal reflux disease in pregnant women. Revista de Gastroenterología de México (English Edition) [Internet]. 2022 Jul [cited 2022 Aug 24]; Available from:
  2. Australian R. Early pregnancy bleeding [Internet]. Australian Family Physician. 2016 [cited 2022 Aug 22]. Available from:
  3. Matthews A, Haas DM, O’Mathúna DP, Dowswell T. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Internet]. 2015 Sep 8 [cited 2022 Aug 22];2015(9). Available from:
  4. ‌The association of temperament with nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy [Internet]. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 22]. Available from:
  5. Beyazit F, Sahin B. Effect of Nausea and Vomiting on Anxiety and Depression Levels in Early Pregnancy. The Eurasian Journal of Medicine [Internet]. 2018 Jun 29 [cited 2022 Aug 22];50(2). Available from:
  6. Digre KB. Headaches During Pregnancy. Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology [Internet]. 2013 Jun [cited 2022 Aug 23];56(2):317–29. Available from:
  7. Steward K, Raja A. Physiology, Ovulation And Basal Body Temperature [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 23]. Available from:
  8. ‌Serna-Hoyos LC, Herrón Arango AF, Ortiz-Mesa S, Vieira-Rios SM, Arbelaez-Lelion D, Vanegas-Munera JM, et al. Vertigo in Pregnancy: A Narrative Review. Cureus [Internet]. 2022 May 27 [cited 2022 Aug 23]; Available from:
  9. ‌Fan W, Kang J, Xiao X, Li L, Yang X. Original Article Causes of constipation during pregnancy and health management. Int J Clin Exp Med [Internet]. 2020;13(3):2022–6. Available from:
  10. ‌Kutlu Ö, Karadağ AS, Ünal E, Kelekçi KH, Yalçınkaya İyidal A, Topaloğlu Demir F, et al. Acne in pregnancy: A prospective multicenter, cross‐sectional study of 295 patients in Turkey. International Journal of Dermatology [Internet]. 2020 Jun 20 [cited 2022 Aug 23];59(9):1098–105. Available from:
  11. ‌Stevens DR, Perkins N, Chen Z, Kumar R, Grobman W, Subramaniam A, et al. Determining the Clinical Course of Asthma in Pregnancy. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice [Internet]. 2022 Mar [cited 2022 Aug 24];10(3):793-802.e10. Available from:
  12. ‌Baudoin T, Šimunjak T, Bacan N, Jelavić B, Kuna K, Košec A. Redefining Pregnancy-Induced Rhinitis. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy [Internet]. 2020 Sep 9 [cited 2022 Aug 24];35(3):315–22. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Dechante Johnson

BSc Neuroscience, University of Exeter, England

Dechante is a 3rd year neuroscience student at the University of Exeter. She has recently carried out research at the University of Western Ontario, Canada where she investigated the "Sensory filtering in Autisic Models". Dechante's main interests are clinical neuroscience, behavioural sciences, health policy and understanding the inequities in healthcare. She is particularly interested in using interdisciplinary biomedical research to answer complex questions and global problems in medicine and health. Dechante is passionate about medical communications and believes that patients should be fully aware of the options available to them and give the public complex information about health into simplistic terms.

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