How To Treat Your Cold And Flu While Pregnant
Having the cold and flu while pregnant is the worst. What medications can you safely take?
You know that unpasteurized brie is a no-go during pregnancy, and those double martinis and oysters on the half shell are strictly verboten. But what about cold and flu medications? When you inevitably come down with a hacking cough, myriad aches and pains, and a serious case of the sniffles, what can you take? Here, our guide to navigating cold and flu season with a baby on board.
Get the vaccine
YOURE PREGNANT!Sign up to get weekly email updates on your baby »Influenzaa severe respiratory illness that causes fever, cough and congestionis not something to be trifled with. As Laura Magee, an obstetrician and clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia, says, women who are pregnant and have the flu are at an increased risk of serious complications. And that list of potential repercussions includes pneumonia, kidney failure, swelling of the brain, premature labour and even death. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of Canadians becomes infected with influenza each year, causing upwards of 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths.
The good news is the vaccine is safe throughout pregnancy. Be sure, however, to request the injection, which is made from an inactivated virus, and not the nasal-spray vaccine, as thats made from a live virus and not recommended for use by pregnant women.
Why Get A Flu Shot
- Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalization, and even death, than non-pregnant women.
- Severe illness in the pregnant mother can also be dangerous to her fetus.
- When you get your flu shot, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you and your baby against the flu.
- Antibodies can be passed on to your unborn baby, and help protect the baby for up to six months after he or she is born.
See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flyer on why pregnant women need a flu shot.
What Can You Do To Feel Better If You Get A Cold During Pregnancy
Although many of the medications that relieve cold symptoms are typically off-limits during pregnancy, you dont have to suffer with a runny nose and hacking cough when youre pregnant. Some of the most effective cold remedies dont come from the pharmacy shelf. Heres how to feel better faster:
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When To See Your Doctor
A sinus infection can resolve itself with home treatment. But there are times when you should see a doctor.
Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms dont improve with OTC medications or home remedies, or if your symptoms worsen.
Contact your doctor if you have a fever higher than 101°F , or if you start coughing up green or yellow mucus. Also see your doctor if you have recurrent sinus infections.
Leaving a severe sinus infection untreated increases the risk of complications, such as meningitis. Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes in the brain or spinal cord.
An untreated infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, eyes, and skin. It can also affect your sense of smell.
From Cold And Cough To Hemorrhoid And Nausea We Break Down Safe Otc Medications To Take While Pregnant
Its the dead of winter and you cant sleep, because youre 7 months pregnant and your baby has decided to be nocturnal. You know you need sleep, because lack of good rest inhibits your immune system. This stresses you out, because your spouse has a nasty cold, and youd rather avoid it.
Your spouse is resting peacefully in the guest room because he has a plethora of over-the-counter medications at his disposal.
But not you. Youre pregnant, and your OTC medicine choices are extremely limited. So, you hope to stay healthy amid the stress and discomfort of pregnancy. Not to mention its cold and flu season.
Then, you realize. Your nose is running. Your sinuses feel clogged. Youre getting sick.
Your first instinct is to want to grab those great medications your spouse is taking. But you know you have to be careful.
In no time, youre miserable with symptoms of the common cold. Youre desperate for relief, but you know the safety of your baby is paramount.
Advanced Womens Healthcare is here to help with a comprehensive list of safe over-the-counter medications to take during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor for the best personalized choices for you.
Pregnant women: Dont forget to get your flu shot at AWH Dallas!
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A Special Consideration: Whooping Cough
Whooping cough is a contagious infection that is characterized by excessive, violent coughing followed by an intake of breath that makes a whooping sound. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that all pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine during each of their pregnancies, preferably between the 27th-36th weeks of pregnancy.This will ensure that protection against whooping cough is passed down to your baby for the first couple of months after birth. Since your child will not receive their first whooping cough vaccine until they are 2 months old, getting this vaccine while you are pregnant will ensure your infant is protected until then. Learn more about taking vaccinations during your pregnancy.
Sneezing Runny Nose And Watery Eyes
These symptoms are the result of histamine release, which isan immune response to an invading virus. Chlorpheniramine, such as TriaminicAllergy, and diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, are safe to take duringpregnancy. However, both can cause drowsiness, so these are best taken atbedtime. The maximum dosage for chlorpheniramine is 32 mg in 24 hours.
When compared to placebos, antihistamines have the most successful resultswithin the first couple days of treatment. Patients didnt report any relief ofsymptoms between days three and 10. Newer antihistamines, such as loratadine, are approved for allergies, not colds, so there isnt informationabout how well they work for cold symptoms.
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How Can I Clear My Sinuses While Pregnant
To ease congestion and other symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis:
These Surprising Safer Alternatives May Be A Better Choice
Mothers-to-be get headaches and upset stomachs just like everyone else. So its not surprising that most pregnant women have used over-the-counter medications. In fact, some data suggest that, overall, women are actually more likely to use certain medicationsincluding cough and cold drugs and acetaminophen after they become pregnant.
Theres a misperception that if a drug is available over-the-counter, that its approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so it must be safe for everyone, including pregnant women, Allen Mitchell, M.D. professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health and Medicine, said. Even doctors may think this is the case. But some OTC drugs have been shown to pose risks to the developing fetus at different stages of pregnancy.
To help you and your doctor make more informed choices about which medications to take, weve identified 10 common ingredients used in OTC drugs that are risky for pregnant women, as well as safer alternatives.
Even then, you should use alternatives judiciously, and only as advised by your health care provider. Experts refer to safer medications because for 98 percent of prescription and OTC drugs, there simply isnt enough data to say for sure that a drug is entirely safe to take during pregnancy. Due to ethical concerns, most FDA-approved medicines have not been tested in pregnant women.
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How To Treat A Sinus Infection During Pregnancy
Most sinus infections are viral, so taking antibiotics generally wont help . As with the cold or flu, your best bet for sinus relief during pregnancy comes from managing the symptoms with home remedies, such as:
Nasal irrigation. Using salt water irrigation, like a Neti pot, can help keep the lining of your nasal passages moist, remove backed-up gunk and promote drainage. Studies have shown that rinsing ones nose with saline by itself will improve sinusitis symptoms as well as swelling in the nose, Sedaghat says. Saline is available as normal saline and hypertonic saline both work equally well, but the hypertonic saline is sometimes associated with nasal dryness or nose bleeds.
Salt water spray. While not as effective as irrigating with a Neti pot, a spray will moisten your nasal-passage lining too and some provide relief. Anything thats pushing salt through would be helpful, Mehdizadeh says.
Cool compresses. Applying a cool, damp washcloth over your sinuses can help ease discomfort, says Mehdizadeh, and can also soothe a sinus headache in pregnancy.
Sinus infections typically clear up within two weeks, but call your doctor if your symptoms remain the same or get worse, and especially if you develop a fever, changes in vision or ear or throat pain.
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Sinus Infection While Pregnant: Medication And Natural Remedies
Sinus pressure, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat? Welcome to a sinus infection during pregnancy. Sinus infections while pregnant at the same time makes being sick even worse.Sinusitis occurs when there is an infection in the lining of one of the four nasal cavities, which can cause inflammation and a nasal obstruction inhibiting the proper drainage of mucus. This can result in symptoms such as a stuffy nose and painful pressure around your cheeks and eyes. Such infections may be caused by a bacteria, virus, or fungus, although the cold is the most common contributing factor of sinus infections. Learn more about dealing with a cold during pregnancy.If you have a sinus infection during pregnancy, you may be tempted to take some medication for a quick fix. However, while certain medications are safe to use during pregnancy, other commonly used medications may not be safe to take while pregnant. You may also find that some home remedies may be just as effective in alleviating your symptoms and helping you recover.
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Types Of Cold Medications To Consider
Even after your first trimester, it is best to speak with your doctor about the types and brands of cold medications that are safe to take. Typically speaking, you should avoid any multi-symptom product, which could include ingredients that range from painkillers and decongestants to expectorants and cough suppressants.
Instead, get the drug to treat the symptom you’re experiencing. There are a number of over-the-counter drugs considered to be safe in pregnancy, such as:
- Anesthetic cough drops such as Chloraseptic or Cepacol lozenges
- Expectorants containing guaifenesin to help clear mucus
- Alcohol-free cough syrups containing dextromethorphan, such as Tussin DM
- Combination guaifenesin/dextromethorphan drugs
- Tylenol to treat fever and minor aches and pains
- Menthol rubs such as Vicks or Mentholatum ointment
When buying any over-the-counter cold or flu remedy, always read the label closely. In some cases, there may be ingredients you should avoid. In others, there may be ingredients you don’t need.
How To Cope With A Sinus Infection During Pregnancy
A sinus infection can be quite uncomfortable in and of itselfbut when one strikes during pregnancy, things can get confusing. For one thing, you might be unsure as to whether its actually a sinus infection or just a run-of-the-mill pregnancy symptom. For another, its not always clear as to whether the typical treatments are safe for baby. Thats why we talked to experts about what its like to suffer a sinus infection during pregnancy, what causes it and how to treat it safely.
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What Sudafed Can I Take When Pregnant
Sudafed 30-60 mg every 4-6 hours can be used in the second and third trimesters in women without HTN. Avoid use in the first trimester and with breastfeeding. Sudafed PE should be avoided because its uncertain efficacy and safety in pregnancy.
Safe Cough And Sore Throat Remedies During Pregnancy
- Dextromethorphan or Dextromethorphan-guaifenesin, such as Robitussin and Robitussin DM. 120 mg in 24 hours
- Nasal drops or sprays
- Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, for aches, pains, sore throat and fever
- Salt water gargling
- Menthol rub on chest, temples and under the nose
- Chloraseptic spray
- Nasal strips
- Cough drops or lozenges containing benzocaine
- Expectorant during the day
Cough and Flu Medications to Avoid During Pregnancy
- Bactrim, an antibiotic
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Is It A Cold Or The Flu
The best way to tell the difference between a cold and the flu is to take account of the typical symptoms.
- A cold is milder than the flu. Its symptoms come on gradually and typically you only run a low-grade to no fever. It generally starts off with a sore throat that goes away after a day or two, a cold ends with the main symptoms of a runny nose and cough.
- Influenza, commonly called the flu, is more severe and the onset is more sudden than a cold. Symptoms include a high fever , headache, chills, a sore throat that typically worsens by the second or third day, intense muscle soreness, and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue. These symptoms, along with sneezing and a cough, can last a couple of weeks or longer.
Be Cautious When Seeking Treatment
Many women use non-prescription, over-the-counter decongestant sprays to open up their nasal passages. Know that these medicines dont work for pregnancy rhinitis. These medicines may give you temporary relief. However, they may actually make your symptoms worse and lead to a complete nasal blockage.
How can you get relief from pregnancy rhinitis? Experts say you can breathe easy with these measures:
Dont use OTC nasal decongestants.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Increase the humidity levels in your home. Use a humidifier.
Dont use nasal irritants, such as cigarette smoke.
Get moving. Regular, moderate-intensity exercise can reduce congestion. It can also help you sleep better. But first, check with your healthcare provider to see what exercises are safe for you.
When you go to sleep, raise the head of your bed. For instance, use an extra pillow or a wedge.
Ask your healthcare provider about using OTC nasal strips and saline sprays or drops.
The good news? Even if you dont do anything, you can expect your stuffy nose to clear up soon after your baby is born. It often goes away within two weeks of childbirth.
Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPH Foley, Maryann, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016
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Safe Sinus Treatments For Post
Common sinusitis and post-nasal drip treatments such as decongestants, allergy medications, and antibiotics, may be off-limits during a womans pregnancy. However, relief from sinus symptoms is still obtainable for pregnant women.
- Avoid Allergens: Taking allergy medications can be dangerous for pregnant women, but that doesnt mean they dont have options. Avoid indoor and outdoor allergies so as not to trigger the immune system. If possible, invest in a HEPA air filter to help keep indoor spaces clean and allergy-free.
- Stay Active: With a doctors approval, keep up a routine of light exercise. Exercise can help reduce the symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis.
- Adjust Your Diet: During pregnancy, a womans body is far more likely to experience symptoms of acid reflux, which can worsen post-nasal drip. Avoid acid reflux and the accompanying sinus pain by steering clear of very acidic foods, such as chocolate, fruit juices, or drinks that contain caffeine.
Safe Allergy Remedies During Pregnancy
- Oral antihistamines, like cetirizine , chlorpheniramine , diphenhydramine , fexofenadine , and loratadine seem to be safe. So does cromolyn sodium nasal spray and the steroid nasal spray Rhinocort, according to Web MD.
- Allergy shots: If you took allergy shots before pregnancy, your doctor might recommend you continue taking them. But do not start them while pregnant.
- Sudafed 30-60 mg every 4-6 hours can be used in the second and third trimesters in women without gestational hypertension. Avoid use in the first trimester and with breastfeeding. Sudafed PE should be avoided because of its uncertain efficacy and safety in pregnancy.
Allergy Medications to Avoid During Pregnancy
- Decongestants: During your first trimester, dont take decongestants by mouth, according to Web MD. Decongestants may make some birth defects more likely. Watch out for antihistamines combined with a decongestant. Because theres not enough evidence for their safety, avoid antihistamine nasal sprays.
- Mucinex, Mucinex D, Mucinex DM, and the extra-strength versions of each, because the six forms of Mucinex contain guaifenesin. Avoid taking any of these during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, they may be safe to use during later trimesters. Ask your doctor.
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What Can I Take For A Cold
Most of the over-the-counter cold medications are safe to use, but its important to take medications that only target specific symptoms and avoid combining medications that could be potentially dangerous.
Theraflu and Robitussin are both good options for helping to relieve cold symptoms. You can also use Vicks or Halls cough drops and vapor rubs to relieve a cough or congestion.
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Mild And Severe Allergies
Mild allergies may respond well to lifestyle measures. If you need some extra help, the following OTC oral antihistamines are generally considered safe:
If your allergies are more severe, your doctor may suggest taking an OTC corticosteroid spray at a low dose along with an oral antihistamine. Options include:
You may also try the following lifestyle changes:
- Avoid going outdoors or opening windows on high pollen days.
- Take off clothing youve been wearing outdoors. Rinse off pollen from skin and hair with a quick shower.
- Wear a mask while completing outdoor chores or enlist the help of someone else for tasks like mowing.
- Rinse nasal passages with saline spray or a neti pot.
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