Diana Kelly Levey

Your Pregnancy Guide to Cold and Flu

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October 8, 2019 | Categories:

As if backaches and nausea weren’t enough to deal with, a case of the sniffles or a pesky cough can become worrisome when you’re pregnant. The flu is particularly scary because body changes during pregnancy make you susceptible to serious illness from it. But the same common sense tips that apply when you’re not pregnant can help you keep germs at bay when you have a bump. And if you do get sick, you can treat your symptoms safely.

How to Prevent Getting Sick During Pregnancy

Here’s your healthy pregnancy cheat sheet.

Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands

The best germ-busting advice still applies during pregnancy: wash your hands regularly. “This is probably the best way of preventing getting sick,” suggests Taraneh Shirazian, MD, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Carry hand sanitizer for when you’re in public places and can’t wash. Encourage family members to keep their hands clean, too.

Nourish Your Body

Good self-care helps keep your immunity strong. Eat healthy foods during pregnancy and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Make sure you’re taking your prenatal vitamin daily. If you feel rundown or think you’ve caught a cold, the best natural methods to boost your defenses are vitamin C and zinc, and as much rest as possible advises Shirazian. Get a good night’s sleep, or take naps when you can, if you find it difficult to sleep at night.

Get the Flu Shot

“If you get the flu in pregnancy, it hits you harder because your immunity is already diminished,” says Shirazian, referring to how your body lowers its defenses to welcome your baby. The flu vaccine helps protect you, and it’s safe during any trimester. If you have small children at home, they can bring viruses and illnesses into the house easily, so get the whole family vaccinated (except babies under 6 months, who aren’t ready for it yet).

Coping with Being Sick

While some women prefer to suffer med-free, most ob/gyns would suggest a cold medicine if you’re can’t function, says Shirazian. If you have a headache, fever, or aches and pains, acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be fine in regular doses, she says. An antihistamine (such as Benadryl) to clear out a runny nose should be OK, too, as long as you stick to the standard dose. Some cold medicines treat multiple symptoms so, to avoid unnecessary exposure, use one that treats only what you have. Avoid any medicines with ibuprofen or alcohol. Check in with your healthcare provider if a cold lasts longer than five days, you have a temperature, or you’re too sick to leave home.

Are Antibiotics OK?

Can you take antibiotics when you’re pregnant? “It depends on which antibiotics you need to take and what they’re being used to treat, on a case-by-case basis,” says Robert M. Dean, MD, an ob/gyn at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, NY. If your provider prescribes an antibiotic, have a talk about the possible side effects — of both taking them and not. New research hints at a possible link between antibiotic use during pregnancy and early childhood asthma and obesity, but more testing is needed.

Take the Flu Seriously

Call your provider immediately if you think you have the flu. It’s serious when you’re pregnant — even to the point that you could be hospitalized. High fever in the first trimester can lead to birth defects in an unborn child, or even premature labor and delivery. Your provider may prescribe an antiviral medication like Tamiflu if they feel you have a clinical diagnosis of the flu, says Shirazian. That drug helps minimize symptoms and decreases the length of time you are symptomatic, which can help keep baby safe.

What to Do for the Stomach Flu

A stomach virus may seem scary when you’re pregnant, but if you can keep liquids down, rest and ride it out at home for 12 to 24 hours, suggests Dean. “Staying hydrated when you have a stomach bug is key,” he adds. Replace any fluid you lose if you’re throwing up, have diarrhea, or are feverish and sweating. Drink an oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte or Gastrolyte), juice, or water in small, frequent amounts. If your symptoms don’t get better, call your provider, Dean advises, as there can be other more serious causes for stomach pain. Discover important reasons why you shouldn’t skip the flu shot.

Special Attention for Asthma Sufferers

Moms-to-be with asthma should also call their provider if they come down with a cold or the flu. Uncontrolled asthma symptoms during pregnancy can result in pregnancy complications, as breathing troubles for you may mean your baby can’t get enough oxygen. It’s safer to take your asthma medications than to experience asthma symptoms or an attack when you’re pregnant. Talk to your provider about your medications and dosages and what’s safe for you when you’re sick. Learn about the connection between COPD and Asthma.

Read the full article on MedHelp.


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