Common Medications To Avoid
Knowing what not to take is almost more important than knowing which medications are safe to take during pregnancy. There are a number of medications to avoid while pregnant unless recommended by your doctor. These include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin and Advil , Bayer , and Aleve and Naprosyn , higher doses of which can cause premature blood vessel closure in the baby. However, low-dose aspirin is now routinely recommended for other indications.
- Any cold remedy containing alcohol, including Benadryl and NyQuil
- Codeine, a narcotic drug which may cause fetal respiratory depression
- Bactrim , an antibiotic that can interfere with folic acid metabolism while stimulating the production of bilirubin , both of which are not good for the baby. The concern for folic acid metabolism is only in the first trimester, and the concern for jaundice is only after 32 weeks gestation. The medication can otherwise be used without concern, especially when treatment is necessary.
- Pseudoephedrine- and phenylephrine-based decongestants, both of which may cause the constriction of blood vessels, potentially increasing the risk of a specific birth defect in the first trimester and risk of elevated blood pressures if used later in pregnancy.
If your cold or flu is severe and you are experiencing chest pains, are coughing up discolored mucus, or have a fever over 102o F, call your doctor immediately.
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 , 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.
Safe Medicines During Pregnancy
Always check with your Womens Care physician if you have questions about taking medications during pregnancy. Listed below are a few recommendations for over-the-counter options that you may take while pregnant.
Medicated Allergy Eye drops not recommended during pregnancy may use Saline only
Medicated Nose Sprays not recommended during pregnancy may use Saline
Cold & Flu
Halls Menthol Cough Suppressant / Oral Anesthetic
Vicks VapoRub Cough Suppressant / Topical Analgesic
Cough & Cold: Cold Drops
Halls Menthol-Cough Suppressant / Oral Anesthetic Plus Medicine
Ricola Cough Suppressant Throat Drops
Vicks Menthol Cough Suppressant / Oral Anesthetic Drops
Cough & Cold: Sore Throat Relief
Cepacol Dual Relief Sore Throat Spray
Cepacol Sugar Free Extra Strength Sore Throat Lozenges with Pain Numbing Relief
Cepacol Maximum Strength Sore Throat Lozenges
First Aid: Anti-Itch Cream
Aveeno Active Naturals Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion
Aveeno Calamine & Pramoxine HCl Anti-Itch Cream with Natural Colloidal Oatmeal Steroid Free
Benadryl Original or Extra Strength Itch Stopping Cream or Gel
Cortaid Anti-Itch Cream, Maximum Strength1% Hydrocortisone
Cortizone-10 Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream
Eucerin Calming Itch Relief Treatment
Gold Bond Medicated Body Lotion Extra Strength or Anti-Itch Cream
Lanacane Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream
Sarna Anti-itch Lotion
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Getting Flu While You’re Pregnant
When you’re pregnant, your body’s immune system is naturally weaker. This means you’re more vulnerable to developing complications. Catching flu while you’re pregnant can also seriously affect your baby.
For this reason, NHS advice is that all pregnant women should receive the flu jab. The flu jab doesn’t offer 100 percent protection from the flu as it’s designed to protect you and your baby against certain strains, but it greatly reduces your risk of catching it. If you catch a strain of flu that the vaccination doesn’t protect you against, it should still shorten the length and severity of your illness.
Studies have shown that the flu jab is safe at all stages of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date. Speak to your GP about getting the free flu jab, as they should be able to provide it. You can also check if your local pharmacist offers the free flu vaccination, or if your midwife can provide it.
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.
- Avoid non-steroidal nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline.
- Dont take supplemental vitamins or herbal remedies without medical approval.
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Flu And Pregnancy: Is Antiviral Medication Safe
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 3, 2020.
If you are pregnant or have given birth within the last two weeks and think you have the flu , call your health care provider right away. It’s recommended that you take an antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir , zanamivir or peramivir , as soon as possible. This type of medication, available by prescription, is most effective when taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms although benefits are still possible if the medication is taken up to four to five days after symptoms start.
Also, call your doctor if you’re pregnant and come into close contact with someone who has the flu. You might be prescribed an antiviral medication to reduce your risk of getting the flu.
The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who aren’t pregnant. Taking antiviral medications can prevent serious flu complications, such as pneumonia. Although it’s important to be cautious with any medication during pregnancy, research suggests that the benefits outweigh the potential risks of antiviral medications to treat flu during pregnancy. Your health care provider might recommend oral oseltamivir because it has the most studies available to support its safety.
What To Do If You Get The Flu While Pregnant
When youre expecting, a healthy baby is your top priorityand that means taking care of your own health, especially during cold and flu season. Pregnancy naturally suppresses your immune system, which can mean you more easily catch common illnesses. Even though the flu is fairly common, it can be more dangerous while carrying a child. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself. And, if you think youve been exposed, your healthcare provider can guide you through it. Heres how.
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Mild And Severe Allergies
Mild allergies may respond well to lifestyle measures. If you need some extra help, the following OTC oral antihistamines are generally considered safe:
If your allergies are more severe, your doctor may suggest taking an OTC corticosteroid spray at a low dose along with an oral antihistamine. Options include:
You may also try the following lifestyle changes:
- Avoid going outdoors or opening windows on high pollen days.
- Take off clothing youve been wearing outdoors. Rinse off pollen from skin and hair with a quick shower.
- Wear a mask while completing outdoor chores or enlist the help of someone else for tasks like mowing.
- Rinse nasal passages with saline spray or a neti pot.
Is It Safe To Take Cold And Flu Remedies While Pregnant
Dr Rob Hicks explains which over-the-counter medicines are OK to have during pregnancy
Can I take cold and flu remedies, such as Lemsip?, is a common question during pregnancy.
Family GP Dr Rob says, Its best to avoid medicines when pregnant. However, paracetamol is fine to take during pregnancy. With ibuprofen, there are different guidelines on whether it is safe to take, depending on which stage of pregnancy youre at.
The NHS states, Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine . The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency advises that NSAIDs should not be used in the first two trimesters of pregnancy unless the potential benefit to the patient outweighs the potential risk to the foetus. NSAIDs should not be used at all in the third trimester unless on the advice of a doctor. Paracetamol, which is not an NSAID, is usually recommended as a safer choice than ibuprofen.
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How Can You Stop The Flu From Spreading
When you have the flu, you can spread it to others. Heres what you can do to help prevent it from spreading:
- Stay home when youre sick and limit contact with others.
- Dont kiss anyone.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm. Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before touching anyone. You also can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Use enough hand sanitizer so that it takes at least 15 seconds for your hands to dry.
- Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash your dishes and utensils.
- Dont share your dishes, glasses, utensils or toothbrush.
When Should I Have The Flu Jab
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. If you’ve missed this time, you can have the flu vaccine later in the winter although it’s best to get it earlier.
Do not worry if you find that you’re pregnant later in the flu season you can have the vaccine then if you have not already had it.
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Can I Take Cold Medicine During Pregnancy
While there is never really a good time to have a cold or the flu, having one during pregnancy comes with additional difficulties. Unfortunately, getting sick during pregnancy isnt uncommonthe immune system goes through a series of changes during those nine months.
When faced with a seasonal cold or flu while pregnant, you must consider not only your own health but that of your baby’s. While there are certain drugs to avoid, suffering through your symptoms isn’t necessary. Read on for a few tips to consider.
What Side Effects Have Pregnant People Experienced From Flu Shots
The most common side effects experienced by pregnant people are the same as those experienced by other people. They are generally mild and include:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
If side effects occur, they usually begin soon after the shot is given and generally last for 1-2 days.
A flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting. Rarely, flu shots can cause serious problems like severe allergic reactions. Anyone with a severe, life-threatening allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients should not get the shot.
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Safe Medications For The Flu During Pregnancy
While many of the medications you used to reach for before you became pregnant are off-limits now, there are still some meds that are safe to take to relieve symptoms of the flu during pregnancy:
- Antivirals. Tamiflu and other antivirals are safe if prescribed by a practitioner who has diagnosed you with the flu.
- Acetaminophen. If you’re running a fever or suffering from nasty body aches or headaches, it’s generally considered safe to take products containing acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. Just talk to your doctor about the proper dosing.
- Cough remedies. Expectorants as well as cough suppressants as well as most cough drops are considered safe during pregnancy, but ask your practitioner about whether they’re okay for you and about dosing.
- Some nasal sprays. Most steroid-containing nasal sprays are fine to use during pregnancy, but check with your doctor about brands and dosing. Plain saline drops and sprays are always safe to take when you’re expecting and can help clear and moisturize a stuffy nose.
- Some antihistamines. Benadryl and Claritin often get the green light during pregnancy, but be sure to check with your practitioner before taking them. Some doctors will advise staying away from those medications in the first trimester.
Remember: Never take any medication without consulting with a doctor who knows youre expecting.
A Flu Vaccine Is The Best Protection Against Flu
Getting an influenza vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. Pregnant people should get a flu shot and not the nasal spray flu vaccine. Flu shots given during pregnancy help protect both the pregnant parent and the baby from flu. Vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant people by up to one-half. A 2018 studyexternal icon showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant persons risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent. Pregnant people who get a flu vaccine also are helping to protect their babies from flu illness for the first several months after their birth, when they are too young to get vaccinated. A list of recent studies on the benefits of flu vaccination for pregnant people is available.
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What Medications Should You Avoid For A Cold During Pregnancy
Some medications, which are otherwise safe to treat a cold, may not be suitable to be taken during pregnancy. They include
- Ibuprofen and aspirin are analgesics that may result in low birth weight and preterm delivery. These medicines should be avoided in the last trimester as well.
- Some studies have stated that decongestants such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are associated with fetal birth defects, whereas other studies have refuted this claim. However, these should be avoided in the first trimester and their dose should also be limited.
- Codeine-containing cough syrups and products containing alcohol are a strict no-no.
- Never take echinacea or other herbal remedies during pregnancy without seeking approval from the physician.
- Most antibiotics are not safe in pregnancy. In case you need them, take them only as directed by the doctor.
Always try to take medicines formulated for your specific symptoms and avoid multi-symptom formulas.
Can Pregnant People With Egg Allergies Get Vaccinated
Most people who have an allergy to eggs can get vaccinated, with some additional safety measures. A person with severe allergy to any vaccine component, including egg protein, should not get the shot, even if they are pregnant. Pregnant people should tell the person giving the shots if they have any severe allergies or if they have ever had a severe allergic reaction following a flu shot.
People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine that is otherwise appropriate. People who have a history of severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting, supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Two completely egg-free flu vaccine options are available: quadrivalent recombinant vaccine and quadrivalent cell-based vaccine.
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Pregnancy And Your Immune System
When you’re pregnant, your immune system is modified in ways that protect your growing baby. And the changes in your immune system evolve throughout your pregnancy.
Your susceptibility to certain illnesses may change during the course of your pregnancy. Studies suggest that you may be most likely to get sick during the first trimester and least likely during the second.
Before Or During Pregnancy: Flu And Whooping Cough
Flu and whooping cough are dangerous diseases for newborns and young infants. The flu can also be dangerous for you when you’re pregnant. Getting the flu and Tdap vaccines during pregnancy is considered safe for your fetus. And these vaccines protect both you and your newborn. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends:
- If you didn’t get the yearly flu vaccine yet, get the flu shot before or during your pregnancy.footnote 2 This is especially important if you have a chronic health problem . The intranasal vaccine contains live virus, so it is not used during pregnancy.
- Get a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis shot before or during each pregnancy.footnote 2
- People who expect to have close contact with your baby should also get the flu and Tdap shots if they haven’t had them. It’s best to get them at least 2 weeks before contact with your baby.
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How Do You Prevent The Flu
Get a flu shot. Donât use FluMist, the nasal spray influenza vaccine. It isnât recommended for pregnant women.
To avoid catching the illness when youâre pregnant:
- Avoid crowds.
- Stay away from people who have a cold.
- Donât touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when you touch a contaminated surface and then touch these areas.
Sneezing Runny Nose And Watery Eyes
These symptoms are the result of histamine release, which isan immune response to an invading virus. Chlorpheniramine, such as TriaminicAllergy, and diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, are safe to take duringpregnancy. However, both can cause drowsiness, so these are best taken atbedtime. The maximum dosage for chlorpheniramine is 32 mg in 24 hours.
When compared to placebos, antihistamines have the most successful resultswithin the first couple days of treatment. Patients didnt report any relief ofsymptoms between days three and 10. Newer antihistamines, such as loratadine, are approved for allergies, not colds, so there isnt informationabout how well they work for cold symptoms.
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When Should You Call The Doctor
- You have trouble breathing.
- Your symptoms don’t improve or get worse after 3 to 4 days.
- After feeling a little better, you start having signs of a more serious problem, like a sick-to-your-stomach feeling, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.