Pregnant women are encouraged to maintain overall health and wellness because many medications are not safe to take during pregnancy. However, as much as you try to protect yourself from getting sick, it may be hard to prevent common illnesses like colds and flu. It is specifically prevalent during the flu season, which begins in early October or November and ends in late May.
Although birth defects can rarely occur from having flu during pregnancy, it predisposes a woman to complications like pneumonia. And to add to that, research has shown that flu and colds last three times longer in pregnant women. The best weapon against flu is prevention. Flu vaccines are safe for pregnant women and even breastfeeding mothers. However, the nasal-spray flu vaccine is contraindicated because it has live, weakened influenza virus.
Common symptoms of flu include fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, chills and sweats, dry cough, muscle aches, weakness, headache, nasal congestion and loss of appetite. If you feel you have these symptoms, it is best that you contact your health care provider. Pregnant women should avoid taking any over the counter medication for colds and flu, if it has not been approved by her physician. The effects of cold and flu medications in pregnant women have not been well studied, so it is always best to get a prescription prior to taking any medication.
Home remedies are quite helpful in relieving symptoms of colds and flu. Air humidifiers work by providing extra moisture n the room, which helps in reducing congestion. If you don’t have an air humidifier, you can fill your sink with steaming water and you can add chopped ginger or add one teaspoon of Vicks VapoRub. Then drape a towel over your head, and inhale the steam for several minutes. This will greatly help in relieving congestion. Another alternative is to add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or menthol to the steaming water. Eucalyptus is known for relieving congestion, and opening up the bronchial tubes.
It is very important to stay hydrated if you have colds or flu. Congestion is a common problem and by drinking at least 8 cups of water, it can help liquefy the secretions that have built up in your respiratory system. It is also good to avoid caffeinated beverages because it may cause dehydration especially if you have fever. A diet high in Vitamin C can also help by boosting the immune system. Good sources of Vitamin C include orange juice and fruits. Hot chicken soup has also been found to improve functions of the cilia, which are tiny hair like projections, found in the nasal passages. The cilia functions by protecting the body from bacteria and viruses.
Expectant moms should also get plenty of rest and sleep. This is important because it helps the body boost immune function, and it gives the body a time to recuperate. If you have a headache, you can apply cool or warm compresses to attain relief. To relieve cough and sore throat, you can use honey-based lozenges.
A woman’s health during pregnancy is important in ensuring a risk-free pregnancy. In order to avoid getting a virus, avoid crowds and contact with people who have colds. Pregnant women should also practice proper hand washing often, in order to prevent infection. Although flu can be managed at home, it is still best to contact your health care provider if you do not feel any improvement in your condition after three days, or if you suddenly have difficulty breathing. It is essential that your doctor can properly manage your treatment in order to prevent any health risks, not only to you but also to your unborn child.
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