Friday, September 29, 2023

What Medicine Can A Pregnant Woman Take For Flu

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What The Study Uncovered

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The study from researchers at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom notes there have been numerous clues that viruses like those that cause the flu and common cold interact.

This includes the fact that the flu and cold tend to peak at different times of the year.

To see if there was statistical evidence of this interaction, researchers looked at 9 years of data, covering 44,230 cases of a respiratory illness in which each person was tested for 11 virus groups.

The researchers concluded that the viruses likely interact in a way that makes it unlikely someone would show symptoms of more than one infection at once.

This is a very interesting study, Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chief of Stanford Universitys Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in California, told Healthline.

Whats really interesting is the opportunity to understand how organisms work together or collaborate, if you will.

Treating A Cold Or Flu

The safest way to handle a cold or flu when youre pregnant is to contact your doctor. Your obstetrician can assess your symptoms and determine what is best for your specific case.

The old adage to feed a cold and starve a fever isnt applicable when youre pregnant. With either illness, the advice is the same: Try to get plenty of rest so your body can build immunities and recover. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and try to eat even small meals to stay nourished.

If you have any health conditions, such as high blood pressure or a high-risk pregnancy, talk with your doctor before taking any medications. In addition, if you are currently on medicine for a health condition, consult with your doctor before adding any others, to ensure the different prescriptions dont create a drug interaction.

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.

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Can I Take Cold Medicine While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding

There are certain cold medicines that are considered safe to take while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The safety of using over-the-counter cold medication while pregnant or breastfeeding depends on the specific medicines within the products, how far along you are in your pregnancy, and any other medical conditions you may have. You should only use cold medicines for the shortest time possible to help with your symptoms. Always be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter cold medicines during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

The American Pregnancy Association recommends limiting the amount of over-the-counter cold medicines you take and trying certain home remedies to alleviate symptoms. They promote washing your hands regularly, drinking plenty of fluids, getting ample amounts of rest, eating well and only using medications to treat the symptoms you are experiencing. As a home remedy for sinus congestion, they recommend using a humidifier, keeping your head elevated on a pillow while resting and/or using adhesive nasal strips. For a sore throat, they recommend sucking on ice chips, drinking warm herbal tea or gargling warm salt water.

Can The Flu Be Dangerous During Pregnancy

Cough Medicines for Pregnant Women

Being pregnant definitely puts you at greater risk for the flu’s more serious complications, like pneumonia. In fact, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized from complications of the flu than non-pregnant women of the same age .

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

  • Medically reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 2018.
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 5th edition, Heidi Murkoff.

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Which Cold & Flu Medication Is Safe To Take During Pregnancy

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. Its also a good idea to talk with your doctor or midwife before taking a cold or flu medication.

What Is Flu In Pregnancy

Influenza is a common respiratory infection that mostly occurs in winter. Its caused by a virus that easily travels from person to person. When someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or speaks, the virus spreads through the air and on surfaces.

Flu during pregnancy is more likely to cause severe illness than flu in nonpregnant people. Pregnant people who get the flu are also more likely to be hospitalized for treatment. If you’re pregnant and have the flu or flu-like symptoms, see your healthcare provider.

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Why Is The Flu So Harmful During Pregnancy

The flu can be dangerous during pregnancy because pregnancy affects your immune system, heart and lungs. Your immune system is your bodys way of protecting itself from illnesses and diseases. When your body senses something like a virus that can harm your health, your immune system works hard to fight the virus.

When youre pregnant, your immune system isnt as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldnt reject your baby. So, your body naturally lowers the immune systems ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. But a lowered immune system means youre more likely get sick with viruses like the flu.

Another reason the flu can be harmful during pregnancy is that your lungs need more oxygen, especially in the second and third trimesters. Your growing belly puts pressure on your lungs, making them work harder in a smaller space. You may even find yourself feeling shortness of breath at times. Your heart is working hard, too. Its busy supplying blood to you and your baby. All of this means your body is stressed during pregnancy. This stress on your body can make you more likely to get the flu. If youre pregnant or had a baby within the last 2 weeks, youre more likely than other women to have serious health problems from the flu.

Heartburn And Acid Reflux

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OTC antacids containing alginic acid, aluminum, magnesium, and calcium are generally safe during pregnancy:

  • aluminum hydroxide-magnesium hydroxide
  • calcium carbonate
  • simethicone
  • famotidine

For severe heartburn, your doctor may suggest taking H2 blockers, such as:

  • ranitidine . Ranitidine, brand name Zantac, is now marketed as Zantac 360, which contains a different active ingredient . Famotidine is in the same class as ranitidine and works the same way but has not been found to contain unacceptable levels of NDMA.
  • cimetidine

Lifestyle changes may also help take the edge off heartburn:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that doesnt put pressure on your abdomen.
  • Try keeping a food diary to help identify certain foods that may trigger your reflux.
  • Wait three hours to lie down after meals. Avoid late meals right before bedtime.
  • Sleep with your head elevated at night.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.

Speak with your doctor if your heartburn becomes severe. In rare cases, it may be a sign of HELLP syndrome. This is a serious pregnancy complication.

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Supplement Use During Pregnancy

Discuss any supplements you take or plan to take during your pregnancy with your doctor.

While prenatal vitamins are recommended to support levels of essential vitamins and minerals, like folate, other supplements may pose risks to your baby. They may also interact with medications youre already taking.

Note that just because something is labeled all-natural doesnt always mean its safe. Supplements are by the FDA in the same way as prescription drugs. Approach them with caution and discuss using with your doctor before starting any.

Is It Safe To Get A Flu Shot During Pregnancy

Its safe for most pregnant women to get the flu shot. Tell your health care provider if you have any severe allergies or if youve ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu shot. Severe allergic reactions to flu shots are rare. If youre worried about being allergic to the flu shot, talk to your provider to make sure its safe for you.

Some flu vaccines are made with eggs. Most women with egg allergies can get the flu shot. But if you have severe egg allergies, get the shot in a medical setting from a provider who knows how to treat severe allergies and allergic reactions.

Pregnant women should not get the flu nasal spray. This is a spray thats put in your nose.

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How Is Flu During Pregnancy Diagnosed

To diagnose the flu, your healthcare provider may use a flu test such as:

  • Rapid influenza diagnostic test : This test shows results in 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rapid molecular assay: This test shows results in 15 to 20 minutes.

Your healthcare provider will wipe the inside of your nose or the back of your throat with a long cotton swab. The test should be quick and painless.

Which Cold Medicines Are Safe During Pregnancy

Can You Take Cold Medicine While Pregnant?

A variety of cough and cold medications are available at your local pharmacy. But it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones are safe to take while pregnant. Different medications target different cold symptoms. Pinpointing your specific symptoms can help you decide which medications to take.

Research on cough and cold medications during pregnancy is limited. Some research suggests that certain medications should be avoided during the first trimester. This is because the first trimester is an important time of development for your baby. And you dont want anything to interfere with that process.

Below, well cover different medications that can be used for various cold symptoms. Always ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any medications while pregnant. If you need medications, take the lowest amount needed to relieve your symptoms. And only take them for the shortest period of time possible.

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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:

  • Mild fatigue
  • 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 hasnt turned into something more serious like an infection or the flu.

Cold Medicine And Pregnancy

Coming down with the common cold is always unpleasant, let alone if you’re pregnant. While many medications are off-limits during pregnancy, there are some remedies to relieve your symptoms.

Common Cold Medicine and Pregnancy: Go Natural

Before you consider taking drugstore medicines for the common cold, you might want to consider some good old-fashioned home remedies, says Elisa Ross, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist on staff with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

The reason: No over-the-counter medicines are really treating the cold or helping you get better, they just control symptoms.

Dr. Ross suggests:

  • Chicken soup

Common Cold Medicine and Pregnancy: Whats Safe?

If you can’t get enough relief from those home remedies, its possible to use common cold medicines with a few precautions. First, guidelines say its best to avoid all medication during the first trimester.

“In the first 12 weeks the baby is making its organs, and so in general, if people don’t need to take something during that time it would be great if they didnt,” says Dr. Ross. more serious consequences at the beginning of the pregnancy.”

Next, Ross says the safest bet is to look for medications with the fewest ingredients possible.

There are also specific medicines to avoid during pregnancy:

  • Any herbal medications or remedies

Common Cold Medicine and Pregnancy: The Safe List

  • Zinc lozenges
  • Chloraseptic spray

Common Cold Medicine and Pregnancy: Check With Your Doctor

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Flu Vaccination During Pregnancy

The flu jab will protect both you and your baby.

Pregnant women have a much higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia. Other complications are not common, but include:

  • middle ear infection
  • blood infection that causes a severe drop in blood pressure
  • infection of the brain and spinal cord
  • inflammation of the brain
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle

If you have flu while you’re pregnant, it could mean your baby is born prematurely or has a low birthweight, and can even lead to stillbirth or death in the first week of life.

Getting the flu vaccine is safe during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date. The vaccine doesnt carry risks for either you or your baby.

Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first 6 months of their lives.

The vaccine also poses no risk to women who are breastfeeding, or to their babies.

The flu vaccine is free for pregnant women as part of the National Immunisation Program.

Read more about what vaccinations are safe during pregnancy.

Guidelines For Expecting Mothers

How can I treat a cold while pregnant?

Tingling in your throat, some congestion in your chest, a little ache in your back or an errant sneeze or twothese symptoms are often the makings of the flu or a cold. Typically, if youre faced with a case of the sniffles or a sore throat, a dose of cold medicine and a good nights sleep will do the trick.

But not if youre pregnant. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter medicines are off limits during pregnancy.

Typically, the symptoms of a bad cold or the flu while youre pregnant wont affect your baby, says Dr. Marcel Favetta, an OBGYN at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center and Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre. However, some of the medicines can be harmful, or they havent been studied widely, so you may have to get through this brief illness without some of the remedies you took before you were pregnant.

How to prevent the flu when pregnantOne preventive measure that is recommended during your pregnancy is getting a flu shot. Getting a flu shot if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant can help keep you and your baby safe during flu season, which lasts from November to March.

If youre pregnant when you get the flu, you are at greater risk for serious complications that could affect both you and your baby, says Dr. Favetta. Fevers, which are common during the flu, are associated with birth defects.

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot during any trimester of pregnancy.

You should also try to get plenty of sleep and drink fluids.

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Should I Go To The Er If I Have The Flu

  • Dizziness, confusion or the inability to wake up.
  • Extreme weakness or unsteadiness.
  • Fever or cough that comes and goes or gets worse.
  • High fever that doesnt change after taking acetaminophen.
  • No urine for an extended period.
  • Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen.
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath.

What Cold Medicines Are Not Safe During Pregnancy

There are a few medications that are generally not safe to take if you’re pregnant. Before starting any new medications, always check with your healthcare provider first.

Intranasal corticosteroids

Avoid triamcinolone . Studies suggest that this nasal spray is linked to birth defects. These defects were specifically in the nasal passages.

Oral decongestants

Some studies show a higher risk of birth defects with oral pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine during pregnancy. But a study of over 4,000 pregnant women taking oral decongestants, found no greater risk. Overall, the safety of phenylephrine during pregnancy is not certain. And ACOG recommends avoiding pseudoephedrine in the first trimester. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need a decongestant at any time during pregnancy.


Intranasal decongestants deliver medication only where its needed: the nose. There isnt much research on this nasal spray in pregnancy. One study showed that there might be a link between Afrin and birth defects. Always check with your healthcare provider before using Afrin or any decongestant. Afrin shouldn’t be used for more than three consecutive days. Using the spray longer can cause a stuffy nose to get worse .

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Syrups containing ethanol

Syrups containing natural sugars

Combination products

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