Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant used to treat nasal congestion caused by colds and allergies. It works by constricting the blood flow to nasal passages and offers temporary relief from allergy symptoms and stuffiness, and promotes better sleep. It is available under the brand names Sudafed, Suphedrin, Myfedrine and Drixoral.
Pseudoephedrine belongs to category C drugs of the US FDA; it means there are no well-controlled studies of the drug on the human population (1). It is not prescribed during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy as it can cause birth defects. You may take it during the second and third trimesters, i.e., after 13 weeks, under medical prescription. The typical dosage is 30 to 60mg every four to six hours, but is given based on your health condition (2).
However, you should always consult your GP and get guidance on safe dosage to avoid any adverse reactions.
Risks Of Taking Pseudoephedrine During Pregnancy
Here are some of the common risks associated with the intake of Pseudoephedrine during pregnancy:
Usage During First Trimester:
- The blood vessel constriction property of the nasal decongestant slows down your uterine blood flow and restricts the fetal growth.
- When you consume Pseudoephedrine while pregnant especially during the first 13 weeks, your unborn baby is at a higher risk of suffering from congenital malformations.
[ Read: Medications To Avoid During Pregnancy ]
Decongestants And It Risk To The Fetus:
- Frequent use of decongestants in early pregnancy can increase the risks of birth defects like gastroschisis and small intestinal atresia.
- In gastroschisis, your baby’s abdominal wall has a small hole that allows the stomach content to protrude and spread to other body organs.
- The exposed intestinal content can get spread to the entire body.
- Doctors usually diagnose the malformation after your baby’s birth and conduct an ultrasound test to detect the severity.
- Some of the other problems that occur along with gastroschisis are cardiac problems, intrauterine growth restriction, and preterm birth.
- Doctors consider both small intestinal atresia (SIA) and Gastroschisis as severe congenital anomalies, and your newborn baby may have to go through surgical treatment.
Nasal Congestion During Pregnancy:
You are at a higher risk of experiencing nasal congestion during pregnancy. The congestion mostly occurs when blood vessels of your mucosal membrane expand. Such expansion aids in exudation of fluid from the blood vessels and you suffer from severe nasal congestion. The congestion can even occur in sinuses or chest.
Things You Can Do To Lower Your Risk Of Nasal Congestion And Allergy
During pregnancy, you are at a higher danger of getting a flu or a common cold. Due to your weakened immune system, your body becomes more vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections. Here are some simple things you can do to minimize your risk of seasonal flu and allergies:
- Taking vaccination for proper immunization from viral and bacterial infections.
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking adequate amount of fluids
- Avoiding close contact with sick friends and family members
- Overcoming stress
- Washing hands more often
When To Seek Medical Assistance?
Suffering from common cold and allergy do not cause any harm to your unborn child. But when you get afflicted with flu-symptoms, it increases your risk of birth defects and premature delivery. Here are some of the typical symptoms of flu for which you need to seek immediate medical assistance and take medications, as suggested by your GP:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Decreased fetal movement
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe vomiting
- High fever that does get controlled with intake of acetaminophen
Home Remedies For Nasal Congestion
Follow the simple home remedies to get relief from severe nasal congestion:
- You can use saline nasal drops for loosening your nasal mucus and soothing the inflamed nasal tissue.
- Add chicken clear soup or broth to your menu, as it aids in reducing the inflammation and helps you overcome nasal congestion.
- Breathe warm and humid air, as it helps in loosening the mucus. You can safely use a hot-mist vaporizer, facial steamer, or even go for a hot shower.
- Drink a cup of warm tea made using honey or lemon, to get relief from a sore throat and flu allergies. You can also drink ginger tea that promotes better sleep.
- You can use hot and cold packs to overcome the symptoms of a headache or sinus pain associated with nasal congestion.
- Sometimes exercising can help you get relief from severe nasal congestion. But you should exercise indoors and keep yourself away from the harmful pollutants and irritants present in the outside air.
- Try to sleep with some extra pillows, placed beneath your head. The elevated head position prevents the unwanted accumulation of mucous in your nose and aids in quick relief.
- Avoid high exposure to allergens and potential irritants during your pregnancy. Some of the common irritants to stay away from include chemical fumes, alcohol, cigarette smoke, paint, or any other allergic substances.
- Use a humidifier to clarify the air of your room. Additionally, you should remember to keep the machine clean and change the water at a regular interval of time. (3)
Did you take Pseudoephedrine when pregnant? Did the decongestant induce any serious effects on your growing fetus? Share your complete experiences here!
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