Pregnancy and the Flu


Worried about getting the flu during pregnancy? While catching the flu during pregnancy rarely causes birth defects, pregnancy can increase your risk for flu complications such as pneumonia. The best way to have a healthy pregnancy is to try to prevent the flu altogether.

How Should I Treat Cold or Flu Symptoms During Pregnancy?

Many flu and cold medications have not been well studied in pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have the flu, call your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or prescription drug.

Drugs to avoid during pregnancy include:

  • Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, Flumadine, Relenza, or Symmetrel. These drugs may cause a small increase in the risk of birth defects.
  • Aspirin and ibuprofen. Aspirin may cause bleeding. Ibuprofen hasn't been studied in pregnant women.
  • The expectorant guaifenesin and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. These are commonly found in cold and flu medicines and cough syrups. Their safety is either unknown or they have been linked to pregnancy complications in animal studies.

What Flu Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Medications that your doctor may suggest during pregnancy include:

  • Acetaminophen, the preferred treatment for aches and pains of flu and colds during pregnancy
  • Chlorpheniramine, the antihistamine of choice for pregnant women
  • Pseudoephedrine, the decongestant of choice during pregnancy after the first trimester

Do not use pseudoephedrine in the first trimester because it has been linked to developmental problems within the fetus's digestive system.

These medications are found commonly in over-the-counter cold and flu remedies. Check labels carefully.

What Are Some Natural Ways to Treat Flu Symptoms During Pregnancy?

Try these four natural flu remedies during pregnancy:

  • Use sugar or honey-based lozenges to relieve sore throats and cough.
  • Get plenty of bed rest.
  • Drink ample fluids, such as water, juice, and caffeine-free tea.
  • Put an air humidifier in your room to provide extra moisture, which can help reduce congestion.

How Do You Prevent Flu During Pregnancy?

Get a flu shot to prevent the flu. Do not use FluMist, the nasal spray influenza vaccine. It is not recommended for pregnant women.

To prevent exposure to flu during pregnancy:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid contact with people who have a cold.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

In addition, call your doctor if:

  • you have trouble breathing
  • your symptoms don't improve or get worse after three to four days
  • after feeling a little better, you develop signs of a more serious problem

Some signs of a more serious problem are a sick-to-your-stomach feeling, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.

What's the Best Way to Prevent the Flu During Pregnancy?

To prevent the flu, get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is th e number one way to prevent the flu. Studies show that viral illness like the flu and colds usually last three times longer in pregnant women.

Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but getting vaccinated in December is still wise.

Is the Flu Shot Dangerous During Pregnancy?

The flu shot does not contain the live virus and cannot give you the flu. Some women do have fatigue and muscle aches due to their immune system responding to the vaccine. In addition, the flu shot is also safe while breastfeeding. It cannot cause you or your nursing baby to get sick. The shot takes about two weeks to work. The nasal flu vaccine should not be used in pregnant women.

Wed, 10 Nov 2010 @07:01

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