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Taking Cold Medicine While Pregnant: Is It safe?

calendarJuly 26, 2016
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Cold remedies while pregnant

Catching a cold while pregnant is a real challenge because now you need to find a "gentle" way to cope with this. Now, everything you take as a medicine might affect your body and the baby negatively. That is why treating a cold while pregnant is a little tricky. Still, there are reasonable ways to cope with it without causing problems to yourself or the baby.

Can the Infection Affect the Baby?

If you have a cold or flu while pregnant, it is normal to worry whether the infection can damage your baby and have a negative influence on its development. Are there safe medications during pregnancy or efficient home remedies for cold during pregnancy?

When you are not pregnant, having the flu or cold seems much simpler. You take some relatively light medications and if they fail to make you feel better, you go to the doctor. But when you are pregnant, you surely do not want the drugs to cause problems to the baby.

Cold Medicine While Pregnant

The good news is that there are medications which can be taken during your pregnancy. So, there is a way to cope with the sinus infection while pregnant and whatever unpleasant symptoms you might have.

How to Avoid Infections?

You need to be really careful because pregnant women are more vulnerable to cold, flu and other infections. Their immune system is weakened during pregnancy and this increases the risk of getting sick. These changes in your body are pretty logical – the weaker immune system helps prevent the female body from rejecting the unborn baby. As a result, pregnant women become more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections.

There is an additional risk – future moms are more likely than non-pregnant women to experience complications of the flu. So, consult with your doctor what is the best way how to avoid the infections and keep yourself and the baby healthy.

A Flu Vaccination Might Help You Avoid Getting Sick

In most of the cases, getting a flu vaccination helps the mother and the baby staying healthy for up to six months after delivery. Have in mind, however, that getting a flu vaccine is not advised if you have some chronic conditions such as an autoimmune disease. Consult with our doctor whether the vaccination is a good option for you and the baby.

You should ask about a preservative-free vaccine if you are worried that there might be trace amounts of mercury. Mercury is often used as a preservative in the flu vaccines.

Tips How to Stay Healthy

Here are some simple things which you can do to reduce the risk of infections:

  • Wash your hands often - Always wash them before having something to eat even if you try not to touch your food.
  • Have enough sleep – your body desperately needs rest. Having naps through the day and a good sleep through the night will help you feel energetic and cope with the feeling of exhaustion. Consult with your doctor how to cope with the pregnancy symptoms which do not allow you to take a good sleep such as frequent urination and diarrhea.
  • Eat healthily – the way you eat might help you make your body stronger and less vulnerable to infections. Be sure that you receive enough vitamins with your energy. This will help you fight more effectively with the illnesses and feel more energy in your body.
  • Avoiding close contacts with infected people – if you know that one or more of your family members or friends is sick, just stay away. Also, it is a good idea to avoid crowded places during the whole pregnancy and especially during the flu season. It is a much better idea to watch a movie at home than go to the cinema. Although this might make you feel a little isolated, this is the best way to protect you and the baby.
  • Exercise regularly – this will not only make your body stronger and more resistant to infections but will help you cope with some other pregnancy symptoms such as stiffness and back pain.
  • Reduce stress levels – as you already know, stress is totally able to make you sick. Now, you need to protect not only yourself but also the baby from it. Do whatever will help you cope with stress – yoga, swimming, eating chocolate, listening to music and many others.
  • Drink more liquids – it is essential to stay hydrated. Drink enough water, as well as some warm liquids such as tea. Drink more of them through the day and none in the hours before going to bed. This is the way to cope to some extent with frequent urination through the night.
  • Clean the surfaces in your home and your office space often. Pay additional attention to the ones that most of the people touch – tables, door handles, switches, and others. Change often your toothbrush and the sponges at home because they keep a lot of bacteria inside them.
  • You should avoid sharing cutlery, cups and plates with someone who has a cold. Actually, do not share them with anyone because you cannot be sure that they do not have a virus which still stays hidden.
  • Do not share bath and hand towels – you have to use your own and to wash them often. You can also try to use paper towels to dry your hands.

What Are the Best Cold Remedies when Pregnant?

Cold remedies while pregnantHere are a few things that you should certainly try if you feel sick: 

  • have plenty of rest;
  • drink a lot of liquids, especially hot tea;
  • gargle with warm salt water – this will help you cope with the cough and the sore throat while pregnant.

What to Do at Home if Feeling Cold During Pregnancy?

Here are some home remedies which can help you feel better if you have a cold or flu while pregnant:

  • Dissolve salt and make your own saline nasal drops. When you put them in your nose, this will help you loosen the nasal mucus and soothe the inflamed nasal tissue.
  • Make inhalations. Breathing the warm and humid air will help you loosen the nasal congestion. You may use a facial steamer or a hot-mist vaporizer. You can also point the hot shower to your sinuses and let the heat relieve your symptoms.
  • Ask someone around you to make you a chicken soup. This will help you relieve the inflammation in your nose and throat and to soothe the congestion.
  • Drink warm tea and add honey and lemon to it. Be sure to drink a lot of warm liquids.
  • Elevate your head with the help of a few pillows or blankets. This will allow you to sleep better and regain your energy.
  • Put hot and cold packs on your forehead and around the nose to relieve sinus pain and sneezing.

What Can Pregnant Women Take for a Cold?

Experts consider that the best decision is to avoid all medications in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. You should avoid all types of toxins, including alcohol and cigarettes because this is a critical time for the development of the baby. In this period, the vital organs develop and you should not endanger this process.

After Week 28 it is also strongly advised to avoid medications. You need to consult with a health specialist before taking any drugs if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby.

Medicine You Can Take While Pregnant in Weeks 12-28

If you get the flu or cold during pregnancy, there are a few medications which are considered to be safe after Week 12:

  • Robitussin (dextromethorphan) and Robitussin DM cough syrups;
  • Vicks plain cough syrup;
  • Vicks or another menthol rub on the chest, temples, and under the nose;
  • Cough suppressant at night;
  • Expectorant during the day;
  • Nasal strips;
  • You can also take Hall's cough drops while pregnant;
  • Cepacol lozenges;
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen) for aches, pains, and fevers;
  • Mylanta, Tums, or similar medications which relieve heartburn, nausea, or upset stomach.

Consult with your doctor about the medicine you can take while pregnant. Although there are some medications that are suitable for pregnant women, only a health specialist could decide what is suitable for your condition.

What Cold Medications to Avoid?

You should not use the "all-in-one" drugs which relieve many symptoms. You would better take single medications for the symptoms you want to relieve, for example – a cough medicine. Do not take medications which were not prescribed to you by your doctor. Unless your health specialist told you to, you should not take the following medications:

  • Drugs, containing ibuprofen;
  • Aspirin;
  • Codeine;
  • Bactrim;
  • Naproxen (Aleve).

They are not suitable for pregnant women and might cause you more serious problems than the cold symptoms.

Do I need to Call My Doctor?

Medicine you can take while pregnant

This is the best thing to do if you have flu-like symptoms. The doctor will probably describe you common cold treatment, suitable for pregnant women. You should not risk taking medications over the counter. Only the doctor will know what is the best treatment and what are the safe medications in your case.

The doctor will also prescribe you blood and others tests to find out whether you have a common cold or influenza. This will help the health doctor tell you what will be the effective and safe drugs for you.

What Cold Symptoms Should Worry Me?

Pay attention if you have some of the following symptoms and consult your doctor immediately if you do:

  • excessive coughing;
  • dizziness and confusion;
  • difficulty when breathing;
  • chest pain or pressure;
  • vaginal bleeding;
  • severe vomiting;
  • high body temperature which cannot be reduced by acetaminophen;
  • reduced fetal movement;
  • chest wheezing.

You should not leave these symptoms untreated because they show that you have a serious infection. Take care for your health and consult a doctor.

Can the Cold Affect My Unborn Baby?

The common cold is not dangerous for the baby in general but might be very exhausting for the mother. The cold will leave you totally with no energy. So you should find a way how to get rid of it quickly. Advise with your health specialist how to cope with your sickness.

A major problem is that at the beginning you cannot tell whether it is a cold or flu. If you have influenza, you need an immediate treatment before it gets worse. The complications – pneumonia and others might be really dangerous for you and the baby.

How to Understand that it is a Cold and not Flu?

It is usually not easy to understand whether what you have got is a cold or flu. These are usually the symptoms of a common cold:

  • sore throat;
  • cough;
  • headache;
  • mild fever;
  • nasal congestion.

What are the Symptoms of Real Flu?

Flu usually appears instantly, with no warning. It usually causes a strong fever and totally leaves you helpless. Flu can make you stay in bed for days. If you feel like this, you should contact your doctor immediately.

These are the common symptoms of flu:

  • strong fever;
  • headache;
  • strong fatigue;
  • intensive chills;
  • muscle aches and weakness;
  • total loss of appetite;
  • vomiting;
  • cough and others.

Prevention is Essential for You and the Baby

It is usually hard to avoid getting a cold or flu. But you should be really careful because your health and the one of your baby depend on it. The virus will probably enter your body when you touch someone who was infected or an object they have recently touched, e.g. like a phone, seat or a door handle. Stay away from people who cough and sneeze. They are also quite probably to infect you.

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