Cold in the head, bun in the oven: Cold and flu symptom relief for pregnant women

I saw a hilarious meme the other day featuring a talk show host giving out something instead of gifts to her studio audience – a cold!

It’s fall – you are getting a cold, and you are and you…etc.

Fall season usually marks the start of cold and flu season and its soundtrack could easily be sneezes and coughs.

With my entire family under the weather, I, for one, am grateful for all the over-the-counter medications out there that can ease my symptoms. But for some of my friends, it seems like there is no relief for runny noses and tickly throats, because they are pregnant.

I feel so bad for those who already do not feel their greatest due to pregnancy symptoms, and get the added bonus of the cold and flu.  Many medications typically taken for colds are off-limits for pregnant women.

According to an Ask the Expert column by Banner Baywood’s Lydia Sims, MD,  a woman’s immune system is weakened during pregnancy, so she is more susceptible to viruses and infections.

Sims noted pregnant women should do their best to prevent a cold by eating healthy and getting plenty of rest. She said avoiding those with cold and flu symptoms and getting a flu shot are also important.

But for pregnant women who get the inevitable cold, Dr. Sims said there are a few things an expectant mother can do to alleviate symptoms that are safe for her baby:

  • Saline nasal sprays
  • Vapor rubs
  • Steam inhalation
  • Throat lozenges
  • Gargling with salt water

There are some antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants, anesthetics, and pain relievers that are safe for pregnant women, and some that pose a risk. Dr. Sims said an expectant mother should always check with her doctor before taking any medications, even if the labels say they are safe.

“Your provider can help determine how to best relieve your symptoms based on your illness, health history, length of pregnancy and potential risks,” Dr. Sims said.

So if you see a pregnant friend and you are suffering from a cold – please keep your distance. She likely doesn’t have the same benefits you have to take some medicine and sleep away the worst symptoms.

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