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Treating a Cold or Flu When Pregnant

Overview

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Everything
changes when you become pregnant. Everything you do affects your body and your
unborn child. This realization makes getting a cold or flu more complicated.

If you
get a cold or become sick with the flu, you may worry about the infection
affecting your unborn child. And what if you suffer from a fever, or diarrhea?
Could those symptoms hurt your child?

In the
past, you may have taken an over-the-counter decongestant, but now you might
wonder: Is it safe? Although medications can relieve your symptoms, you don’t
want the drug causing problems for the baby.

Fortunately,
many medications can be taken while pregnant, so treating a cold or flu during
pregnancy doesn’t have to be a frightening experience.

Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

Pregnant
women have a higher risk of getting a cold or the flu because their immune
system is weakened during pregnancy, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A weaker immune system helps
stop the woman’s body from rejecting the unborn baby. But it also leaves
expecting moms vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections.

Pregnant
women are also more likely than non-pregnant women their age to experience
complications of the flu. These complications can include pneumonia,
bronchitis, or sinus infections. Getting a flu vaccination reduces the risk of
infection and complications.

Share your own remedy.

According
to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention
(CDC), getting
a flu vaccination helps protect pregnant women and their babies for up to six
months after birth. So, it’s important for pregnant women to be up-to-date on
their vaccination schedule. Ask your doctor about a preservative-free vaccine
if you’re concerned about trace amounts of mercury used as a preservative in
most vaccines.

Others
things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick include:

  • washing your hands often
  • getting enough sleep
  • eating a healthy diet
  • avoiding close contact with sick
    family or friends
  • exercising regularly
  • reducing stress

Treatments for a Cold or Flu During
Pregnancy

Certain
tried-and-true cold treatments can be trusted while pregnant:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • drinking a lot of fluids
  • gargling with warm salt water for
    a sore throat or cough

A few
home remedies include:

  • Saline nasal drops and sprays for loosening nasal mucus and soothing inflamed nasal tissue.
  • Breathing warm, humid air to help loosen congestion. Try using a facial steamer, a hot-mist vaporizer, or even a hot shower.
  • Chicken soup helps relieve inflammation and soothe congestion.
  • Adding honey or lemon to a warm cup of decaffeinated tea to help relieve a sore throat.
    Elevating your head to help you sleep better.
  • Using hot and cold packs to alleviate sinus pain.

What About Medications?

According
to the University of Michigan Health
System and
most OB-GYNs, it’s best to avoid all medications in the first 12 weeks of
pregnancy. That’s a critical time for the development of your baby’s vital
organs. Many doctors also recommend caution after 28 weeks. Speak with your
doctor before taking any medication if you’re pregnant, or trying to get
pregnant.

Several
medications are considered safe after 12 weeks of pregnancy. These include:

  • Robitussin (dextromethorphan) and
    Robitussin DM cough syrups
  • Vicks plain cough syrup
  • Vicks or other menthol rub on your
    chest, temples, and under the nose
  • Nasal strips (sticky pads that
    open congested airways)
  • Hall’s cough drops or Cepacol
    lozenges
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen) for aches,
    pains, and fevers
  • Cough suppressant at night
  • Expectorant during the day
  • Mylanta, Tums, or similar
    medications for heartburn, nausea, or upset stomach

Avoid
“all-in-one” medications that combine ingredients to tackle many
symptoms. Instead, choose single medications for the symptoms you’re struggling
with. You should also avoid the following medications while pregnant unless
recommended by your doctor. These medications increase the risks for problems:

  • ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and
    others)
  • codeine
  • Bactrim (an antibiotic)
  • naproxen (Aleve)
  • aspirin

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Although
most colds do not cause problems for an unborn child, the flu should be taken
more seriously. Flu complications increase the risk of premature delivery and
birth defects. Get immediate medical help if you experience the following
symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain/pressure
  • vaginal bleeding
  • confusion
  • severe vomiting
  • high fever that isn’t reduced by acetaminophen
  • decreased fetal movement

The CDC
recommends that pregnant women with flu-like symptoms be treated immediately
with antiviral medications. As always, if you have any questions, call your
doctor’s office.

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Posted by: Dr.Health

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