Tips To Safely Treat Colds And The Flu While Pregnant

You’re pregnant, and you’ve come down with a cold or – worse yet – the flu. You’re probably miserable, but what can you do to safely feel better? Treating colds and the flu during pregnancy is not such a scary prospect. A little common sense and some of these tips will help you feel better soon.
Mary Fetzer

In the midst of cold and flu season, you may find that you’re under the weather far more often than you were before getting pregnant. During pregnancy, your immune system is less effective. This lower defense system is your body’s way of making sure the baby is not rejected, but it also makes you more susceptible to illness.

Prevention is the best medicine
Good habits may help you prevent getting sick in the first place. When you’re pregnant, you can rely on the normal methods to avoid catching a cold:od habits may help you prevent getting sick in the first place.

When you’re pregnant, you can rely on the normal methods to avoid catching a cold:

·     exercise regularly

·     eat a balanced diet

·     get sufficient rest

·     take your vitamins (prenatal vitamins especially help boost your immune system)

·     wash your hands frequently and thoroughly

·     stop smoking (smoking makes your immune system even weaker and is dangerous for your baby)

In spite of your best efforts, you still may become ill. And while preventing illnesses is quite the same for pregnant and non-pregnant women, treating them is not. Special care must be taken to treat cold and flu symptoms during pregnancy.

What about taking cold medicines?
Time, not medicine, will cure your cold or flu, but some medications may help lessen symptoms and make you more comfortable. If you are pregnant, however, you should not take any over-the-counter (OTC) medications without approval from your doctor.

Antihistamines, decongestants and cough medicines – Benadryl, Sudafed and Robitussin are some examples – are not typically tested in pregnant women and may have unknown dangerous side effects on the baby. For minor aches and pains associated with your illness, acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) may be approved by your doctor. Pregnant women should avoid ibuprofen (such as Advil) and aspirin unless prescribed by a doctor.

Aside from making you miserable, a cold is not a risk to your pregnancy. The flu, on the other hand, can be more serious, sometimes resulting in pneumonia. Flu shots are safe for you and your baby. Consult your doctor about getting a flu shot during your second or third trimester.

What about antibiotics?
Upper respiratory illnesses, such as colds, flu, bronchitis and sore throats, are generally caused by viruses. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but they do not help fight viruses. Taking an antibiotic for a viral illness simply does not work. 
If your healthcare provider determines that you do have a bacterial infection and need an antibiotic, be sure to carefully follow dosing instructions. Some antibiotics are not safe during pregnancy, so make sure the doctor prescribing the antibiotic knows you’re pregnant.

Dealing with it
Because they’re so common, it’s impossible to avoid colds and the flu completely. If you come down with one of these illnesses, you have to let it run its course. But you can help speed up your recovery and ease your symptoms:

·     eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

·     drink plenty of clear fluids, such as juice or water, to stay hydrated

·     soothe a sore throat with honey added to hot water or tea, or gargle with salt water

·     use saline nasal spray and a vaporizer or humidifier to relieve congestion

·     get extra rest, your body is best able to recuperate when you rest

If your symptoms won’t go away or seem particularly severe, you may have developed a secondary infection. Notify your doctor if your cold or flu lasts longer than a week.

In most cases, your illness will not harm your baby. Use it as an excuse to pamper yourself and get some extra TLC, so you’ll be all better when baby arrives.

Sources: WebMD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AskDrSears, FamilyDoctor

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