Getting the flu or colds is always a hassle, but it becomes even more inconvenient and disturbing when you’re pregnant. Since everything you put into your body can be passed on to your unborn child, you can’t take just any kind of medication to treat your cold or flu and get better.
There’s also a high chance that you’ll develop complications (like bronchitis or pneumonia) since pregnancy lowers your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight viruses.
“Is it the flu or a cold?” This is one of the most common questions pregnant women (and everyone else) ask since it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.
The flu and colds are caused by different viruses. The latter usually lasts for a week and causes a blocked and/or runny nose as well as coughs, frequent sneezing, and a sore throat. Flu, on the other hand, exhibits the same symptoms (albeit to a more severe degree) along with fever, fatigue, body pains, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Prevention is always better than a cure, so when you’re pregnant, you should do your best to avoid getting sick. Wash your hands before eating and touching your face, and stay away from people who are sick. Make sure to eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and get enough rest and sleep to boost your immune system as much as you can.
You can also get a flu vaccination to further protect yourself and your baby. This is safe to do no matter how far along you are, and you’ll even pass along some immunity to your child.
Even when you do everything to protect yourself from getting sick, there’s still always the chance that the virus will find its way to you. When this happens, one of the best things to do is use home remedies.
These can help you manage and alleviate your symptoms without having to take medications that may negatively affect your baby’s health. Here are some of the home remedies you’ll want to explore:
- Give steam inhalation a try. To do this, get a bowl of hot water, place your head over it, and cover yourself with a towel or blanket to prevent the steam from escaping. (You can also use a hot mist vaporizer if you have one.) Breathe in the steam so it can loosen the mucus that develops in your respiratory system and make it easier for you to clear your airways.
- Add honey, ginger and/or lemon juice to warm water or decaffeinated tea. These can help soothe sore throats.
- Use saline sprays or nasal drops to clear a stuffy nose and make breathing easier.
- If you’re not allergic to chicken, get yourself some chicken soup. It won’t only warm your tummy and give you a sense of comfort since it can also help you get better. Studies have found that the nutrients found in chicken and bone broth can help reduce inflammation and speed up healing.
There are times when home remedies just won’t cut it and you need to take medications for your cold or flu. However, you shouldn’t just take the first thing you see in your medicine cabinet.
Remember: not all medications are safe and suitable for pregnant women and their babies, so you need to be careful about what you take.
If you have a fever and/or feel body aches, you can take acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol). This is safe for pregnant women to use and can help reduce high body temperature and alleviate mild to moderate pain.
But don’t be complacent; you still have to limit yourself to the lowest effective dose of paracetamol and take it for the shortest possible time to avoid any negative effects on your baby.
If acetaminophen is on your “safe to take” list, other medications should be put on your “never to take” list since they can pave the way to complications and may harm your child. One of these is ibuprofen, which may raise your risk of miscarriage and cause abnormalities in your baby.
You should also avoid aspirin, codeine, naproxen, and phenylephrin.
Take note: these medications are usually present in “all in one” tablets or drinks for colds and the flu, along with acetaminophen. Make sure to read drug labels carefully before taking them; just because something has acetaminophen on its ingredients list doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe for you.
See your doctor
Colds and the flu often go away on their own with proper rest and diet and with the help of home remedies. If you’ve been experiencing the symptoms for a couple of days without any signs of progress, however, you’ll need to call your doctor. This way, he or she can assess your condition and give you medications safe for you and your baby.
If you have been taking acetaminophen but your high fever hasn’t abated, seek medical help ASAP. Get yourself to the emergency room if you detect decreased movement from your baby and/or if you experience severe vomiting, feel pain or pressure on your chest, or find it difficult to breathe.