15 Helpful Tips To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose During Pregnancy

get rid of a stuffy nose during pregnancy

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A stuffy nose and nosebleeds are common during pregnancy. Nearly 30% of women experience nasal problems at some time in their pregnancy, and this condition is called pregnancy rhinitis (1).

A blocked nose is not a serious condition but can be irritating, thus adding to your pregnancy woes. But do not worry, as you can get relief through some simple and harmless ways.

MomJunction discusses all about a stuffy nose. Read on.

Is Stuffy Nose An Early Sign of Pregnancy?

Yes. Around the ninth week of pregnancy, the increasing hormonal levels (especially estrogen) cause swelling in the mucus membranes, which line up the nose. This, therefore, produces more mucus, thus blocking the nose.

Also, the increased blood volume inflames the tiny blood vessels in the lining of your nose and causes congestion (2). This could also lead to nose bleeds in some cases.

What Else Causes A Stuffy Nose?

If stuffy nose accompanies no other symptoms, it is possibly rhinitis of pregnancy. But, if you have other symptoms, it can be due to the following reasons:

  1. Infections or cold: If nasal congestion is associated with coughing, sneezing, mild aches, sore throat or fever, you probably have an infection or cold.
  1. Sinus infections: If there are symptoms such as a headache, fever, yellow or green mucus, facial pain, low sense of smell or an upper jaw ache, it is sinusitis.

[ Read: Sinus Infections While Pregnant ]

  1. Allergies: If you have a stuffy nose along with watery mucus, sneezing, itchy eyes, throat, nose or ears, then the actual cause can be an allergy. Allergies are unpredictable during pregnancy. You may become sensitive to allergens or other irritants that have never bothered you earlier.

Whatever may be the cause, it is not possible to find the actual cause for nasal congestion during pregnancy because all these infections are interrelated. And there are chances that you may also suffer from more than one reason.

How Long Does A Stuffy Nose Last?

A stuffy nose can start in your second month of pregnancy, and get worse later. It usually eases up after your delivery and is completely gone within two weeks after delivery.
However, you can alleviate the suffering through some natural remedies.

Natural Ways To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose During Pregnancy:

While you cannot take medications during pregnancy, there is no such restriction on natural remedies as they are safe. Here are a few tricks you can use:

1. Steam inhalation:

Take hot water in a bowl. Put a towel over your head and inhale the steam from the hot water. Try to breathe in and breathe out for some time. It helps relieve the nasal congestion, and breathe better.

2. Use a humidifier:

Place a vaporizer or humidifier in your room when you are sleeping. It increases the moisture in the room helping you get rid of the stuffiness. You should clean the humidifiers regularly and change the water so that there is no scope for bacterial growth.

3. Saline drops or sprays:

Saline sprays contain a salt solution. Drip a drop into each nostril, and feel the difference within five to ten minutes.

4. Homemade nasal lavage:

Take one pint of sterile water and add one teaspoon each of salt and baking soda. Mix well and pour some into your palm. Now try sniffing up into each nostril and repeat until you feel relieved. Repeat it twice to thrice a day and make fresh lavage every time.

[ Read: Aspirin During Pregnancy]

5. Blow your nose:

Hold one nostril with your thumb and gently blow through the other. It will force the air to exit through one nostril at a time thus clearing the passage. Repeat the same with the other nostril until you can breathe properly.

6. Keep your head elevated:

Use extra pillows to raise your head while sleeping. It helps relieve nasal congestion and heartburn as well.

7. Exercise:

Light exercising or brisk walk clears nasal congestion. Do not try to exercise outdoors since the air pollution can aggravate your congestion and make it worse. Perform cardiovascular exercises regularly for a better airflow and sleep.

8. Avoid irritants:

Cigarette smoke, paints, alcohol, and strong smelling agents can all aggravate your stuffy. You should avoid all of these triggers.

9. Stay hydrated:

Consume lots of water as it not only reduces congestion but also keeps you and your growing fetus healthy. Cut down caffeine and other caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.

[ Read: Dehydration During Pregnancy ]

10. Apply petroleum jelly:

The inflamed nasal passage turns dry and causes a burning sensation. To keep it moist, swab some petroleum jelly on a cotton bud and apply.

11. Take vitamin C foods:

Increase the portions of vitamin C in your diet to reduce the chances of nose bleeds. You need to include vitamin C veggies and fruits like kiwis, tomatoes, oranges and bell pepper in your diet. But, talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.

12. Acupressure (bridge of the nose point):

Press the point that is near the bridge of the nose and eye socket. Use your thumbs to locate areas on either side of the nose and press for about five minutes. You can press the two points one after the other or at a time. When you apply the right pressure at the right place, you will get rid of mucus and congestion.

Acupressure (bridge of the nose point

Image: iStock

13. Warm up your legs:

Wear socks during bedtime by filling them with mustard seeds. This will keep your legs and body warm, reducing the swelling in the tissues of the nose.

14. Horseradish mixture:

Combine finely chopped horseradish, apples and a bit of sugar. Take about two tablespoons of it every day to get relief from a stuffy nose. Horseradish is known to fight bacteria and improve immunity.

15. Ginger tea:

Ginger contains anti-inflammatory agents. So, try to start your day with a hot cup of ginger tea made with freshly grated ginger and a little honey. It clears away the nasal passages and improves your fluid intake.

[ Read: Ginger Tea During Pregnancy ]

Can Medications Help Clear Stuffy Nose?

Though medicines are not recommended during pregnancy, certain drugs are safe and can be taken in extreme cases. You should check with your doctor before trying any:

1. Nasal decongestant sprays:

They are safe to use as they are not oral medications and therefore cannot enter the placenta. They ease the condition quickly, but the congestion could come back and it will be severe than the previous one (3).

2. Antihistamines:

Pregnancy rhinitis is usually caused or aggravated due to the release of histamines. Antihistamines, therefore, help control severe symptoms of this condition. First-generation antihistamines are considered safe to take during pregnancy.

A stuffy nose is one among the several irritants during pregnancy. Thankfully, it is neither serious nor long-lasting. Also, you can get relief through simple natural remedies. This condition is not for you to panic but to relax and maybe sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is Afrin safe during pregnancy?

Afrin contains an active ingredient oxymetazoline, which causes shrinkage of blood vessels in the nasal passages and helps you breathe easily (4). It is the second line of treatment if none of the remedies work and if the symptoms are bothersome. It can only be taken upon doctor’s prescription.

2. Is Otrivin safe during pregnancy?

Otrivin (Xylometazoline) nasal drops is not safe to use unless your doctor prescribes it (5). This is a decongestant spray often used for nasal congestion caused by a cold. If you have been taking it before your pregnancy, talk to your doctor about its continuation.

3. Can I use Vibrocil nasal spray during pregnancy?

You should consult a doctor before taking vibrocil since the effects of this medication are unknown (6). It is usually prescribed for temporary relief of a stuffy nose.

4. Is it safe to use Sudafed nasal spray when pregnant?

According to the UK National Health Services (NHS), pregnant women should not use Sudafed for a stuffy nose. However, they can check with the practitioner, and she may prescribe if nasal congestion is associated with sinusitis.

5. Can I take Sinutab when pregnant?

Sinutab is a nasal spray decongestant prescribed for nasal congestion and sinusitis. You should check with your doctor about taking it during pregnancy (7).

6. Is phenylephrine hydrochloride nasal spray safe during pregnancy?

You should avoid phenylephrine decongestants especially in the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy as there are reports of birth defects associated with this medication (8). Though the risk is low for normal women, it can be high for smokers.

7. Can I use Vicks nasal spray when pregnant?

The safety of Vicks nasal spray, Vicks vapor rub or Vicks inhaler has not been established so far. Therefore, it is better to check with your doctor before you use them while pregnant.

Some of the other nasal spray decongestants that require caution are iliadin, equate, Drixoral, Dimetapp, beclate, naphazoline, and xynosine.

[ Read: Vitamin C During Pregnancy ]

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Rebecca Malachi

"I believe words have power. They are a powerful tool for a creative soul. Being a 'word addict', I express my thoughts and contribute articles on health, wellness and beauty. Apart from writing, I love listening to gospel music and enjoy observing nature in silence."
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