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Cold and flu medicine during pregnancy
Which Cold & Flu Medication Is Safe to Take During Pregnancy? | UNM Health Blog
By Maria Montoya, MD | February 04, 2022
You are pregnant and start feeling sick. Before you reach for that bottle of cold or flu medicine, are you certain it is safe for your baby?
When you are pregnant, your baby will be exposed to everything you are exposed to. This means that when you are sick with a cold or flu your baby will not only be exposed to the cold or flu virus, but also any medication you may take.
Typically, with most viruses, you must wait for your immune system to fight the infection. Over-the-counter medications can help soothe your symptoms while you wait.
However, not all over-the-counter medicines are safe to take during pregnancy. Certain medications may hurt the baby or cause problems for you, such as increasing your blood pressure.
Use this quick list of pregnancy-safe natural cold and flu remedies and over-the-counter medications as a starting point. Remember, read the directions on the package for any medication you might take. It’s also a good idea to talk with your doctor or midwife before taking a cold or flu medication.
Natural, Pregnancy-Safe Remedies
Before you try any medications, there are natural remedies you may find adequate relief from first. Here are a couple of safe, natural remedies to try:
Gargle warm salt water
Get as much restful sleep as possible
Sip honey in hot water
Stay well hydrated
Use nasal saline sprays
Try a humidifier
While not all herbs and supplements are safe in pregnancy. You may be able to safely take:
Talk with your doctor or midwife before taking any supplements or trying at-home remedies or essential oils during pregnancy.
If natural remedies don’t provide enough relief, consider these pregnancy-safe medications.
Pregnancy-Safe Cold & Flu Medication
It is best to avoid taking medications when possible. If you do need to take something, follow the package directions carefully. Talk with your doctor or midwife before taking medication during pregnancy.
These over-the-counter medications are considered safe for most pregnant patients:
Safe during the entire pregnancy.
Take only as needed.
Try to limit regular exposure.
Not safe if you are allergic to it or have liver problems.
Safe in the second and third trimester
Not safe in the first trimester due to a small risk of abdominal wall birth defects
Not safe if you have high blood pressure (hypertension) or a history of heart disease
Safe during pregnancy.
Not safe while breastfeeding.
Safe throughout pregnancy.
Watch out for extra ingredients. Many cold and flu medications treat more symptoms than you may be experiencing. For example, Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom treats headaches, fever, body aches, cough, chest congestion, stuffy nose, and more. If you just have a stuffy nose, this is more medication than you need.
A word about antibiotics. Some sinus infections are treated with antibiotics. In general, pregnant patients should not take antibiotics unless it is necessary. Make sure your health care provider knows you are pregnant if they prescribe antibiotics.
The dangers of high blood pressure in pregnancy
How to spot symptoms and get help
Medications to Avoid in Pregnancy
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications can hurt your developing baby. Do not take NSAIDs such as these when you are pregnant:
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Naproxen (Aleve, Midol)
Aspirin (Bayer), unless your doctor or midwife prescribes daily low-dose aspirin.
Do not take these medications during pregnancy. These drugs can hurt the developing baby:
Benzocaine (throat lozenges/throat sprays)
Codeine (a pain and cough medication)
Phenylephrine (i.e., Sudafed PE): it not considered safe while pregnant because studies with animals showed adverse effects to the fetus.
When you don’t feel well, the last thing you might want to do is read a medication label. However, it is worth taking a few extra moments to read the label and avoid additional risks. If you’re not sure what medicine is safe to take, call us. We are always here to help you.
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When you are pregnant, your immune system doesn’t operate at maximum capacity, which is actually a good thing because it keeps your growing baby protected, and stops your body from thinking the fetus is an intruder. However, this comes with the downside that your body can’t ward off the viruses that cause the common cold quite as effectively. This can leave you vulnerable to the symptoms that come along, including a congested nose, cough, and sore throat.
As we move into cold and flu season, you may find yourself coming down with a cold, and while you can rest assured that your baby isn’t experiencing any of them, you want to get rid of the symptoms quickly and safely. While colds are mostly an uncomfortable annoyance best managed by a little extra rest, fluids, and patience, you may find yourself seeking out cold medications to alleviate your symptoms. We recommend making a call to your OBGYN so they can steer you in the right direction in terms of cold medications that are considered safe during pregnancy. Here are our own recommendations on what to do if you get sick while pregnant.
Common cold symptoms during pregnancy
Generally, a cold will start with a sore or scratchy throat lasting about a day or two, followed by the gradual onset of other symptoms which may include:
A runny, then later stuffy nose
A dry cough, particularly as the cold is ending which may continue for a week or more after the other symptoms have mostly subsided
A low-grade fever typically under 100 degrees Fahrenheit
Cold symptoms usually last between 10 to 14 days. However, if your symptoms persist longer than that time frame or seem to progressively worsen, you should talk to your primary care physician so they can ensure it hasn’t turned into something more serious like an infection or the flu.
Is it a cold or the flu?
The best way to tell the difference between a cold and the flu is to take account of the typical symptoms.
A cold is milder than the flu. Its symptoms come on gradually and typically you only run a low-grade to no fever. It generally starts off with a sore throat that goes away after a day or two, a cold ends with the main symptoms of a runny nose and cough.
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is more severe and the onset is more sudden than a cold. Symptoms include a high fever (typically 101-104 degrees F or higher), headache, chills, a sore throat that typically worsens by the second or third day, intense muscle soreness, and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue. These symptoms, along with sneezing and a cough, can last a couple of weeks or longer.
What to do if you get a cold while pregnant
Before turning to medicine, there are some effective cold remedies that don’t come from a pharmacy shelf. Here are ways to alleviate symptoms and feel better fast:
Keep eating: It’s common to not have much of an appetite when you have a cold but it is important to eat a healthy diet while you are sick and pregnant.
Rest: While this won’t necessarily shorten the duration of your cold, your body needs rest. Sleeping can prove to be a bit difficult when sick with a cold. Breathe easier by elevating your head with a few pillows. Nasal strips can also help as they gently pull your nasal passages open. They are easy to find, sold over the counter and are drug-free.
Stay active: If you can, do some light to moderate, pregnancy-safe exercises. It will help your body to fight off the cold faster.
Drink lots of fluids: Symptoms of colds like sneezing, runny nose, and fever causes your body to lose fluids that are essential to you and your baby. Warm beverages like tea with honey (which helps to suppress a dry cough) or hot soup with broth are soothing for your symptoms and cold water and juices work fine as well.
Eat foods with vitamin C: Foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, melon, kiwi, and red cabbage are packed with vitamin C which will help to boost your immune system.
Get more zinc: Pregnant women should try to get 11-15 milligrams of zinc each day, including the zinc in prenatal vitamins. Foods like turkey, beef, eggs, yogurt, wheat germ, oatmeal, and pork will also help to boost your immune system.
Use a humidifier: Dry conditions in your home can aggravate your symptoms so using a cold or warm air humidifier at night can really help.
Use saline nose drops, rinses, and sprays. All of these can help to moisten nasal passages, and they’re unmedicated, so they are safe for use while pregnant. We do recommend avoiding neti pots, however, as they can spread germs.
Gargle with warm salt water: Gargling with warm salt water can help to ease a scratchy throat and help control a cough.
Medications that are safe for pregnant women to take for a cold
Before reaching for the medications in your medicine cabinet, reach for the phone and call your OBGYN to discuss the recommended remedies you can take for a cold while pregnant. Here are cold medications that are generally safe during pregnancy.
Taking acetaminophen like Tylenol can help in the short-term to reduce head and body aches and break a fever.
Expectorants like Mucinex, cough suppressants like Robitussin, vapor rubs like Vicks VapoRub, and cough drops are all considered safe during pregnancy. But again, make sure to consult your OBGYN about safe dosages.
Plain saline drops and sprays are safe and can help to moisturize and clear a stuffy nose. Most steroid-containing nasal sprays are also safe but you should check with your doctor about brands and dosing.
Benadryl and Claritin are generally safe during pregnancy but, as usual, check with your doctor as some will advise against them during the first trimester.
Medications to avoid during pregnancy
Always check with your doctor or OBGYN before taking any medications – prescription, over-the-counter, or homeopathic – particularly the following.
Pain relievers and fever reducers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can cause pregnancy complications, particularly if taken during the third trimester.
Decongestants like Sudafed and DayQuil are generally cautioned against after the first trimester and only in a limited amount.
Don’t take supplemental vitamins or herbal remedies without medical approval.
Colds during pregnancy: how to treat?
Any cold or respiratory disease in early pregnancy, during the primary formation of the fetus, can lead to unpredictable consequences and complications. The matter is complicated by the fact that most medications are absolutely contraindicated for use during gestation.
In this regard, the treatment and prevention of colds in pregnant women is an important issue, which should be approached especially responsibly! The main thesis is: be careful with medicines and apply mild preventive measures based on alternative medicine methods to avoid respiratory diseases and flu.
"One for two - immunity"
This is a very fragile system, it is not necessary to interfere in its work, but it is necessary to support and strengthen it. Pregnancy belongs to the category of special, albeit temporary, conditions during which a woman needs additional protection.
This issue will help simple recommendations that are available to everyone:
• During the period of frequent weather changes, it is necessary to dress warmer, paying special attention to shoes. • During an epidemic, it is better for a pregnant woman to refrain from being in crowded places - transport, metro, shops and hospitals. If there is an urgent need, to prevent possible infection, a protective respiratory mask should be worn before leaving the house.
• Be especially careful about hygiene after visiting the street and public places. Upon returning home, the first thing to do is wash your hands thoroughly.
Interesting: More than 90% of all acute respiratory infections are caused by viruses, about 10% are bacteria and other pathogens. Accordingly, any soap can be used, not necessarily antibacterial.
• Before going outside, you can lubricate the nasal mucosa with oxolinic ointment. Upon returning home, flush the upper respiratory tract with soda solution.
• Rationalization of nutrition and intake of vitamins will strengthen the immune defense. It is especially useful to eat fruits and vegetables that are enriched with vitamins and have not undergone heat treatment.
Interesting: our grandmothers used to say: in order not to get sick, you need to drink chicken broth! Strange, but until recently, scientists did not attach much importance to this prophylactic. Pulmonologist Stefan Rennard decided to find out if this was true or not. The professor conducted a study and proved that the use of chicken broth affects the mobility of neutrophils, white blood cells that protect the body from infections and activate the immune system.
Vitamins can be taken using ready-made pharmaceutical multivitamin complexes. Before choosing a drug, you should consult your doctor.
Compliance with the regimen and duration of sleep - at least 9 hours a day. The possibility of psychotraumatic situations should be minimized.
Maintaining cleanliness in the living quarters (ventilation, wet cleaning).
Air humidification is an important aspect in the prevention of influenza and respiratory diseases. If air conditioners or heaters are used in the house of a pregnant woman, it would be best to purchase a mechanical humidifier.
Medications for prevention
Grippferon - a drug in the form of drops for the nose, which provides prevention and treatment of influenza, is not contraindicated for pregnant and lactating women. The medicine stimulates an increase in immunity, has a pronounced antiviral effect that can protect against colds, infections and influenza varieties.
Ascorbic acid - can be used as a separate source of vitamin C in a synthetic version, with a reduced daily intake from food. Ascorbic acid not only prevents infection, but also fights viruses that have already entered the body of a woman.
Viferon - nasal ointment, which is prescribed for the prevention of influenza and respiratory infections during an epidemic. The ointment has protective and immunomodulatory effects, and also allows you to deal with disorders that are already occurring in the body at the time of use. Viferon in the form of a nasal ointment has no contraindications for use in pregnant women at any time, including the first trimester.
Aquamaris is a natural drug in the form of a nasal spray that allows you to moisturize the nasal mucosa, thereby reducing the risk of influenza viruses entering the nasal cavity.
I would like to say a few words about such a method of prevention as vaccination. Most often, the expectant mother may be at risk of infection due to the annual influenza epidemic. This disease is dangerous for a pregnant woman precisely because of its complications: pneumonia, bronchitis, otitis media. Influenza in a pregnant woman can also affect the health of the fetus. Most of all, it is dangerous in the early stages of pregnancy, when the tissues and organs of the human embryo are laid and formed. Viral intoxication or drug exposure can lead to pathology of the child's organs. In later pregnancy, there is a risk of infection of the fetus.
The most dangerous consequence of influenza in a pregnant woman is threatened miscarriage or premature birth!
It is quite natural that expectant mothers often wonder whether or not to vaccinate.
Studies have concluded that the use of inactivated ("killed") influenza vaccines does not have a teratogenic effect on the fetus and does not harm the health of a pregnant woman. After consulting with your doctor about such an inoculation, you can come to an optimal solution. If an influenza epidemic is inevitable, and the pregnant woman has no contraindications, then the vaccine should be given. If a pregnant woman has a negligible risk of infection, she does not come into contact with a large number of people, or is opposed to vaccination, then you can not do it. According to research, it is known that vaccination of mothers reduces the risk of influenza infection of a born child by 63%. Seasonal influenza prevention is carried out in September, October. Vaccinations for pregnant women are recommended from the second trimester of pregnancy.
In the period of a planned pregnancy, a flu shot is given 1 month before it: the formation of immunity occurs 2-4 weeks. Protection after vaccination lasts about a year.
If infection does occur, action should be taken immediately if at least one symptom of the disease is detected. The health of a pregnant woman and her unborn child depends entirely on her responsibility and respect for her own body.
Proven folk remedies will be used first. Since pregnant women cannot steam their legs, steam their hands, and this will facilitate nasal breathing. Bundle up, put on woolen socks and crawl under the covers: warmth, peace and sleep are good for colds. Do not forget to drink plenty of water - hot green tea with lemon and honey, lime blossom tea, cranberry juice, rosehip broth, dried fruit compote. Ginger in the form of tea also helps, not only with catarrhal symptoms, but with nausea in the morning.
Various hot milk drinks are also suitable. Honey can be added to milk, and it is best to boil it on onions. It must be emphasized right away that not all herbs for colds during pregnancy can be used. Here is a list of medicinal plants that are contraindicated: aloe, anise, barberry, elecampane (grass and root), sweet clover, oregano, St. John's wort, strawberries (leaves), viburnum (berries), raspberries (leaves), lemon balm, lovage, wormwood, licorice ( root), celandine, sage. Accordingly, preparations containing these plants should not be taken.
The use of medicines for colds during pregnancy must be treated with great care!
It is contraindicated to use the following drugs : Pertussin, Tussin plus, Joset, Glycodin, Ascoril, Travisil, Broncholitin, ACC, Grippeks, Codelac, Terpinkod. Do not use lozenges and lozenges for sore throat or cough are also undesirable due to the likelihood of allergic reactions.
Spray Pinosol, judging by the components indicated in the instructions, is not dangerous during pregnancy. However, the essential oils contained in the preparation - pine, peppermint, eucalyptus, thymol, guaiazulene (wormwood oil) - can lead to an allergic reaction with swelling of the nasal mucosa.
Viferon suppositories are allowed to be used only after 14 weeks from the start of conception. This drug contains recombinant human interferon alpha-2, ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol acetate and has antiviral, immunomodulatory and antiproliferative effects. It is used in the treatment of various infectious and inflammatory diseases in adults and children (including newborns). In the form of an ointment, Viferon is used to treat herpetic lesions of the skin and mucous membranes. The ointment is applied in a thin layer to the affected areas of the skin 3-4 times a day for 5-7 days.
The homeopathic preparation Stodal, which includes predominantly herbal ingredients, acts on various types of cough and has an expectorant and bronchodilator effect.
Viburkol - homeopathic suppositories - have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, antispasmodic action. They are prescribed in the complex therapy of acute respiratory viral infections and other uncomplicated infections (including in newborns), as well as in inflammatory processes of the upper respiratory tract and inflammatory diseases of the genitourinary system.
So, you can try to eliminate a slight ailment on your own, but there are conditions under which you need to call a doctor at home:
Myalgia, fatigue, fatigue, general malaise;
Difficulty breathing, nasopharyngeal lumps and dry or wet barking cough;
A pregnant woman is troubled by severe pressing headache.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the importance of treating chronic diseases before pregnancy, a healthy lifestyle during childbearing and following all doctor's orders.
I wish expectant mothers and their loved ones to try to maintain a good mood: optimists live longer and happier, they are more productive. Remember your victories and pleasant moments more often and everything will be fine!
Colds ARI, SARS during pregnancy, consequences, treatment
Colds can suddenly take our wonderful future mothers by surprise.
What should I do if I get a cold (ARI/ARVI) during pregnancy?
Is it possible to protect yourself from SARS?
Which medicines are allowed and which are not?
Is it dangerous for the baby?
Pregnancy is a wonderful state, but, unfortunately, even this wonderful period in a woman’s life can be overshadowed by exacerbation of pre-existing chronic diseases of the respiratory system (almost 10% of the population suffers from one or another pathology of the respiratory organs and do not go to the doctor for treatment ).
What is the danger of neglect in acute respiratory infections/ARVI during pregnancy
The causative agents of viral and infectious diseases can contribute to miscarriage, increased blood loss during childbirth.
Viruses can also activate existing in the body and other "dormant" infection, contribute to the development of inflammatory diseases of the internal genital organs.
There is no particular predisposition to infection in pregnant women, but respiratory diseases of an infectious and viral nature in pregnant women are often more severe and give much more complications if treatment is not started on time.
The most common diseases in pregnant women are SARS and influenza.
Colds are dangerous during pregnancy, both in the 1st trimester, 2nd trimester, and 3rd trimester.
ARVI is an acute respiratory viral infection, i.e. The source of the disease is viruses that a sick person releases in large quantities when coughing, sneezing, talking. We are especially prone to viral infections during the cold season, as well as during the transitional periods of autumn and spring - when it is hot during the day, cold in the morning, and sometimes we dress completely inappropriate for the weather.
The onset of SARS is usually gradual with a general malaise, lethargy, slight fever, and a runny nose or sore throat.
Influenza, unlike SARS, is more severe and poses a great danger to both mother and fetus. Influenza epidemics recur almost every year, during which 30-40% of the population falls ill.
This is an acute viral disease transmitted by airborne droplets. The influenza virus penetrates through the respiratory tract, affects the mucous membrane, increases the permeability of the walls of blood vessels. The flu virus lowers the immune system, which can exacerbate chronic diseases. The onset of influenza is acute, sudden: 30 minutes ago everything seems to be fine, but now it’s temperature, chills, fever.
What to do if you get SARS during pregnancy?
Treat for sure!!!
Do not hope that it will go away on its own and somehow manage to lie down. Even with a slight malaise, the likelihood of complications in a pregnant woman is high.
Be sure to visit a doctor, a competent therapist or general practitioner will give you comprehensive recommendations on drug therapy, as well as the use of home remedies that will not harm you and your baby.
Do not self-medicate, antiviral drugs, herbs, lozenges, antibiotics and antibacterial drugs should not be taken without a doctor's prescription. Your body during pregnancy may react differently than in normal life.
Is it possible to protect yourself from SARS during pregnancy?
SARS prevention measures are simple and affordable:
Pregnant women should limit their visits to crowded places with large crowds of people indoors, wash their hands more often (personal hygiene), beware of hypothermia, i. e. dress for the season and the weather.
Proper balanced nutrition, vitamin intake and more positive emotions are of great importance.
After coming back from the street or working at home, it is a good idea to gargle with sea water and flush the nose.
Before work, lubricate the nasal cavity with oxolin ointment or peach oil.
At work and at home, take care of proper air humidification (ionizers, humidifiers)
Important! Do not forget about regular walks in the fresh air, a full sexual life (if there are no contraindications) and sports (taking into account the physiological characteristics of the pregnant woman)
What medications can be taken during pregnancy if you have ARVI?
Medications are prescribed individually, based on the situation, the doctor selects.
You can bring down the temperature with Paracetamol (both tablets and suppositories).
Absolutely everyone is shown a warm alkaline fortified drink.