During pregnancy, it is possible that you catch a cold or flu and at times, it may feel that the cold seems to last longer and you wonder which over-the-counter medication is safe. Firstly, it is important to recognize the differences between a cold and a flu, as the latter is more severe and require immediate doctor’s attention rather than self-medication. There are also some natural remedies that you can try, but you have to be aware of when a visit to the doctor is necessary as symptoms get more severe.
Cold and Flu Symptoms
If your only symptom is nasal stuffiness, it may be sinus congestion due to increase in hormone estrogen and blood flow. For this, you can try to reduce swelling of the nasal passage by increasing the room humidity or using nasal strips. Cold is milder than flu, with symptoms such as running nose and mild fever. It may last longer during pregnancy due to suppressed immune system. However, if you have high fever, severe sore throat, cough, headache and muscle soreness and the symptoms are sudden and severe, it is more likely that you have flu. It is better to see a doctor if you have the flu to obtain safe medications to recover faster.
6 Natural Remedies for Cold
If you have cold, you can try the following home remedies:
#1 Drink more water
Drinking water can help to replace fluids lost during fever and help clear the nasal secretions that may have thickened. If you do not feel like drinking so much water, you can include broth, juices and frozen ice pops as part of your fluid intake.
#2 Have more rest
Increase your rest periods, especially when your body needs to recover and increase immunity to fight the cold.
#3 Relieve the nasal congestion
You can try using a humidifier, elevating your head for better breathing and using nasal drips. You can also use nasal saline wash and spray. A vaporizer or warm compress across your cheekbones can also provide some relief.
#4 Take healthy foods
Having healthy nutrition is important during pregnancy and to recover from the cold. Increasing your intake of vitamin C may also help you to recover faster. Go for smaller meals if it is easier to digest. Some foods that can help relieve the cold symptoms are bell peppers, bananas, blueberries, carrots, cranberries, horseradish, onions and black/ green tea.
#5 Relieve sore throat
Try lozenges to relieve the sore throat and cough, and it is a good way to keep your throat hydrated. Warm honey lemon drink or gargling with salt water are also helpful. Another recipe for gargle is to include honey and apple cider vinegar.
#6 Use a salve to help with breathing
Try a menthol salve under (not inside) your nose to open breathing passages and soothe the irritated skin at the base of the nose. Menthol, eucalyptus and camphor help to numb and relieve the pain of the sore skin around the nose.
Cold Medication for Pregnancy
If you have cold before 12 weeks or after 38 weeks of pregnancy, it is advisable to see a doctor instead of opting for over-the-counter medication. For fever, you can use acetaminophen. For cough, you can try dextromethorphan, or cough lozenges. Menthol rub under the nose, nasal strips are also safe. The general rule is to avoid all-in-one medication during pregnancy but to take different medications for different symptoms. You should also avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, codeine and antibiotics unless directed by your doctor. Steroid-containing nasal sprays should also be avoided, and to use saline sprays instead. Also check with your doctor before taking antihistamines.
What to Watch Out during a Cold
Here are some signs to watch out for that shows that your cold has worsened or you may be down with another condition!
– Temperature increases beyond 38.5 degree Celsius
– Green or yellow sputum or blood-stained phlegm
– Severe sore throat, may indicate a strep infection
– Chest pain
– Muscles aches
– Chills and sweats
– Difficulty breathing
Flu can lead to other complications, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or even worse, meningitis (infection of brain) or myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle). Persistent high fever is also linked to premature birth and even miscarriage. As there is always some risk with falling ill during pregnancy, it is important to take good care of yourself.
Having plenty of rest, get some exercise, eating and drinking enough fluids, and also be careful to take preventive measures against catching a virus or bacteria from the surrounding. For instance, observe hygiene measures such as washing your hands, not touching your face to limit spread of bacteria, not being close to those who are sick and not sharing towels, cutlery or glass/bowl with others. Flu vaccination is also recommended for pregnant women. Most importantly, whenever you feel that your cold is not getting better, call your doctor promptly to avoid complications.
Written by Mei