On normal days, a cold can be a nuisance. But when you are pregnant, even a minor cold can feel debilitating. A cold is an upper respiratory tract infection. And it is difficult to deal with upper respiratory infection while pregnant.
Viruses cause most cases of upper respiratory tract infections. The most important thing to remember about viral infections is that they don’t normally respond to medications like antibiotics. That is why it is important to let viral infections run their course. Want to know more about how to deal with upper respiratory tract infections while expecting? Read on!
Kinds Of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
The common cold is not the only infection that can affect your upper respiratory tract. Some other viral upper respiratory infections include:
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Fifth disease
Fortunately, most women do not have to deal with many of these illnesses during pregnancy. A cold or flu is the most common upper respiratory tract infections.
Most people often think that cold and flu is the same thing. But that is not true. Though both of them are upper respiratory tract infections and do resemble each other, there are some subtle differences you should know.
Signs And Symptoms of Cold
An acute inflammation of the upper respiratory tract can cause a common cold. The symptoms of a cold may include:
- Loss of smell
- Body aches
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
Signs And Symptoms Of Influenza
Influenza or the flu is also a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract. It is usually a common complaint during the winter months.
The symptoms of flu can set in suddenly and include:
- Body ache
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
[ Read: Bacterial Infections During Pregnancy ]
Treating Common Upper Respiratory Tract Infection During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, even simple illnesses may last longer than usual, thanks to your weakened immune system.
In any case, your best bet during a cold or flu is to find as much comfort as you can.
Some things you can do to manage your cold or flu symptoms include:
An upper respiratory tract infection can leave you weak. So, rest as much as you possibly can.
2. Keep Yourself Hydrated:
3. Keep Fever Under Control:
If you develop a fever, try to keep it below 100.4° F. High fever during pregnancy can cause several birth defects in your unborn baby like neural tube defects, microphthalmia, cataract, micrencephaly, functional and behavioral problems (2).
Some steps you can take to manage your fever include:
- Wearing loose clothes to allow body heat to escape.
- You should also try taking a bath with lukewarm water.
- You can use medications to reduce fever after consulting your doctor.
4. Say Goodbye To Congestion:
Congestion can cause acute distress during a cold. To find relief from nasal congestion, try some extra humidity. Use a humidifier in your room. You can also use a neti pot or saline water for some relief.
[ Read: Nasal Congestion Relief During Pregnancy ]
5. Cough No More:
A persistent cough can cause discomfort to pregnant women. So, try using home remedies like basil leaf, ginger, honey, etc. for relief. You can also consult your doctor about using a cough medicine.
When To Seek Medical Help?
Most cold and flu cases are time bound and pass without many issues. But in some cases, it may be important to call your doctor. See your doctor if:
- You develop abdominal cramps that refuse to go away.
- You develop diarrhea and vomiting.
- You experience vaginal bleeding
- Your fever shoots up above 100.4°F.
- You develop chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Your symptoms persist beyond a week.
Preventing Upper Respiratory Tract Infection In Pregnancy
The H1N1 virus mimics the common cold and flu virus but can prove to be fatal for pregnant women (3). That is why, it is important to keep an eye on your upper respiratory tract infections.
Severe cases of upper respiratory tract infections can cause premature birth, lower birth weights, cesarean delivery, etc. (4).
If you want to avoid these complications, you can opt for the flu vaccine. You can also try the H1N1 vaccine that provides your body with immunity against Swine flu. Many pregnant women are wary of trying these vaccines in the fear of harming their babies. Don’t worry! Studies show that flu vaccines, including H1N1 vaccine, do not cause any adverse pregnancy fallouts (5).
Some other methods you can use to prevent upper respiratory tract infections can comprise the following (6):
- Washing your hands often.
- Avoiding crowded places.
- Keeping your home clean and dust free.
- Avoiding exposure to smoke and pollen.
- If you are traveling, carry a hand sanitizer.
- Do not rub your eyes as that can transmit virus to your nasal cavity through the tear ducts.
These simple steps can go a long way in preventing upper respiratory tract infection during pregnancy. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!
You may want to live a normal life while pregnant. But you cannot deny the fact that your body is not the same! So take a little care, even if it is just a cold!
Do you know of any home remedies for treating and managing upper respiratory infection during pregnancy? Share with us!