When illnesses such as colds, flu, and headaches occur during pregnancy, it is helpful if you know how to properly care for yourself. Remember that there is no cure for these conditions; the body will cure itself. Treatments, including medications, are aimed at relief of symptoms. Always consider if relief of symptoms outweighs the potential risk of the medication for your baby.
Headaches occur more frequently during pregnancy, but they can typically be relieved by rest and relaxation, placing a cold compress on your forehead or the back of your neck (heat works better for some people), or receiving a massage. If these methods fail, it is acceptable to use Tylenol. If you have very severe headaches that cannot be relieved by the above methods, you should notify our office.
Colds are infections to the upper respiratory tract that are typically caused by a virus that is not susceptible to antibiotic therapy. Common symptoms include nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, fatigue, and a low-grade fever (below 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
When nasal congestion and cough are the main symptoms, drink more fluids, run a cool mist vaporizer, and get more rest. If the nasal congestion is severe enough to require medications, it is safe to use a nasal decongestant spray such as Afrin or decongestant tablets such as Sudafed. Do not exceed the dosage directed on packaging.
Coughing may be relieved by mixing equal parts of honey and lemon juice and sipping one to two teaspoons every hour. Robitussin cough syrup (plain) is an acceptable commercial alternative. Cough drops that contain slippery elm also work well to relieve coughing.
If a sore throat is a prevalent symptom, you may want to come by the office and obtain a culture to make sure you do not have a strep infection. A warm solution of one-half to one teaspoon of salt in a large glass of warm water makes a soothing gargle that you can use as often as you like.
You should carefully monitor your temperature by taking it twice a day for ten days to see if you have a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit; if you do, an examination by your doctor is required. It is acceptable to use Tylenol (acetaminophen) to lower the fever, but dosage should not exceed six to eight tablets per day.
Remember that it usually takes seven to fourteen days for a cold to resolve. If it does not resolve in this time period, you should be examined to see if some other disease symptoms are present.
The intestinal flu is a viral infection that affects the intestinal tract and typically causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dehydration is also a possible consequence, and this could be harmful to your baby.
When symptoms occur, stop eating solid foods and begin drinking small amounts of clear liquids at frequent intervals. Jell-O, broth, tea sweetened with honey, and de-carbonated soda are acceptable fluids. Avoid milk and milk products. If the symptoms fail to clear in a day or two, you may use Kaopectate. If diarrhea is severe or ongoing, we may ask for a stool specimen to check for the presence of an infection other than a virus.
Urinary Tract Infections
Infections of the bladder and sometimes the kidney are more common during pregnancy. These are usually caused by bacteria and respond to antibiotic medications. If you develop burning with urination, a feeling of urgency to urinate, blood in the urine, a one-sided backache, fever, or chilling, you need to be seen by your doctor so that appropriate medications can be prescribed.