How to treat a cold or flu when you’re pregnant

No one wants to fall ill, but it’s especially unwelcome if you’re pregnant. It’s important to know how to treat a cold or flu when you’re pregnant in order to prevent dangerous complications. Take extra special precautions to ensure the safety of both the mother and the unborn baby. Discover more, as Bloom discusses how to treat a cold or flu when you’re pregnant. Get the top tips on what natural remedies you can use as an alternative, what medication can be used safely and what medication to avoid. To find affordable healthcare options, you can get medical insurance quotes tailored to your needs.

Why a cold or flu can be a problem if you’re pregnant

It becomes a problem because the symptoms of a cold or the flu are more severe when a woman is pregnant. In addition, a pregnant woman’s immune system changes make her more vulnerable to infections.

Let’s discuss the two illnesses separately so one can distinguish between the two and prioritise a treatment plan.

A cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. While it’s uncomfortable, it’s not particularly dangerous and won’t pose any life-threatening problems for pregnant women. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Mild fever

Influenza, more commonly referred to as the ‘flu’ is caused by a viral infection and is more serious than a cold. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches

If you develop the flu during pregnancy you could develop complications, like pneumonia, which can put the baby’s health at risk. The flu has also been linked to premature labour. It’s important to see a healthcare professional, like your midwife or doctor if you suspect you have the flu when you’re pregnant, especially if you’re in your second or third trimester.

What you need to know about medication and pregnancy

Pregnant women are limited in what medication they can safely take during pregnancy. Some medications can harm a developing baby. The safety of medication will depend on several factors, like the specific drug, dosage and the timing used during your pregnancy. Some types of medication have been linked to birth defects, miscarriage and premature labour, so it’s always critical to talk to your healthcare provider before you take any medication. They can advise you about what you can take and when you can take it.

Medication to avoid when you’re pregnant

Medical experts advise against using the following medication when you’re pregnant:

  • Cough mixtures, like Benylin, Bisolvin and Mucospect
  • Antihistamines, like Telfast and Loratidine
  • Flu medications, like Degoran, Advil, Flutex, Sinutba or Demazin
  • Painkillers, like Myprodol, Mybulen, Ibuprofen or Nurofen

How to treat a cold or flu when you’re pregnant

There are a number of ways you can treat a cold or flu when you’re pregnant, some of the home remedies to use when you have a cold or flu during pregnancy include the following:

  1. Rest. Getting enough rest will help your body fight off the infection.
  2. Stay hydrated. It’s advisable to get rest and drink lots of fluids, like water, broth and herbal tea, as this helps to thin out mucous, making it easier to clear your nose and throat.
  3. Use a humidifier or steam therapy. This can ease congestion and relieve a cough or sore throat. Do this by taking a hot shower or by filling a bowl with hot water, placing a towel over your head and breathing the steam in deeply.
  4. Use honey. Honey is a natural antibacterial. It can soothe a sore throat so add it to your herbal tea or warm water.
  5. Use ginger. Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can also help relieve a sore throat.
  6. Gargle salt water. This will help reduce inflammation and soothe a sore throat. Mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle for 30 seconds.
  7. Eat chicken soup. This can help relieve congestion and soothe your symptoms. The liquid also helps keep you hydrated.

Remember that while these remedies can help relieve your symptoms, they won’t cure a cold or flu. If your symptoms do persist or get worse, we strongly advise that you go see a doctor.

There are some safe, over-the-counter medications you can take when you’re pregnant. Discover how to treat a cold or flu when you’re pregnant with these medications:

  • Paracetamol. Take a Panado Medsip sachet every 4-6 hours
  • Vitamin C. No more than 1000mg daily
  • Sinupret for relief from congestion
  • Euphorbian drops for relief of most flu-like symptoms
  • Saline nasal drops, or spray

Tisp about how to prevent getting a cold or flu

Prevention is always better than cure so try to prevent contracting an illness by practising good hygiene, boosting your immune system, and avoiding crowds of people. The best tips about keeping yourself safe include:

  • Get a flu vaccine. It is safe for pregnant women to get the flu vaccine. This will decrease your risk of developing influenza.
  • Washing your hands frequently. Make sure to use soap and water, as well as a hand sanitiser, especially if you’ve come into contact with other people.
  • Avoid contact with crowds. If possible, don’t go out to crowded areas during flu season.
  • Practise good hygiene, like covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Boost your immune system by eating a good, balanced diet, getting regular exercise, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest.
  • Use a face mask. We know that the use of face masks reduced the risk of contracting COVID-19, so it would be a good idea to use a mask if you wanted to be extra cautious when going outside.

Ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy

Now that you know how to treat a cold or flu when you’re pregnant, you can stay safe and healthy during your pregnancy. Remember to contact your healthcare provider if you experience severe flu-like symptoms, like chest pain, shortness of breath or a severe cough. Bloom strongly advises our members, especially pregnant women, to make smart lifestyle choices. Get affordable health insurance with maternity cover, and get in touch with one of our expert consultants for a free quote and a personalised plan.

Medical Content Disclaimer

You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.

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