Colds and Flu During Pregnancy
Taking good care of your health during pregnancy becomes even more important because of the presence of the upcoming baby, who needs help and good care.
Why are pregnant women more prone to colds and flu? The immune system is lowered slightly during pregnancy in order to stop a pregnant woman's body from rejecting the unborn baby. Pregnant women may be more vulnerable to infections, such as coughs, colds and flu.
What can I do to reduce my risk of getting a cold or the flu during pregnancy?
You can help to boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. These contain antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, which help to fight infections. Your doctor probably will prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement specifically formulated for pregnant women. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Try to minimize stress as much as you can. Your immune system is stronger when you do not smoke. Of course, it also is healthier for baby when the mother avoids tobacco during pregnancy.
Is it safe to take over-the-counter cough and cold remedies during pregnancy?
You should never buy cough or cold remedies over the counter (OTC) without first checking with your doctor about the safety of products. Many OTC products have not been tested for safety during pregnancy and could affect your baby's development and health.
Is it safe to take antibiotics during pregnancy?
There are many antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy, but some are not. Make sure that your doctor knows that you are pregnant. Never take antibiotics that are left over from a previous prescription and always finish the medication that is prescribed to you.
How can I treat coughs and colds safely while I am pregnant?
It is safe to use a salt water throat gargle and a saline nose spray. Vapor rubs and cough lozenges are both safe. For fever and pain, use only regular or extra strength Tylenol. Do not use aspirin, Motrin or Ibuprofen. These can cause problems with the baby. Getting proper rest and drinking lots of fluids are always recommended to fight a cold, whether during a pregnancy or not. In addition, it is a good idea to:
- Eat a well-balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, to give you the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrate, protein and fat.
- Try steam inhalation for a cold with a stuffy nose. With a towel over your head, lean over a bowl of hot water with two or three drops of eucalyptus oil added and inhale to help clear the congestion.
- Prepare a soothing drink of hot water, honey and lemon to help ease a sore throat.
How can I treat the flu safely during pregnancy?
If you have the symptoms of flu, fever, headaches, chills, body aches, fatigue and loss of appetite, drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever, to avoid dehydration. Vitamin C-rich fruit juices, such as orange juice, will help you fight off the infection. A drink of hot water, lemon and honey will help soothe a sore throat. Although you may not have much of an appetite, try to eat something nutritious (i.e., fruit or wholegrain toast) when you can. Make sure that you get plenty of rest.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have a persistent cough or cold/flu-like symptoms that do not seem to be going away, call your doctor as you may have a secondary infection. If you have any concerns about your health, contact a health professional.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional written health information, please contact the Health Information Center at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771 or visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ This document was last reviewed on: 4/27/2005
The Cleveland Clinic 2004
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