Respiratory infections are common in pregnancy. Your immune system is lowered in pregnancy and this sets you up for all kinds of infections.
Especially in the second part of your pregnancy, sleeping becomes more difficult and the resulting fatigue will decrease your immunity even further. When pregnant, “cold symptoms” will usually last twice as long and be twice as severe. On top of this, you are usually told that most medicines are not safe to take while pregnant!
The combination of extra rest and drinking more fluids is the cornerstone to a healthy recovery. However, there are many things you can take safely to help with your symptoms.
Colds are usually caused by viruses for which there are no antibiotics. For the headaches or fever, the FDA states that you can safely take up to 4000 mg of Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) per 24-hour period for a few days. Some doctors prefer that you take no more than 3250 mg per day because of liver metabolism.
Remember to look at the ingredients in other headache and cold preparations as many of these will also contain acetaminophen. There is a real risk of liver toxicity by exceeding the recommended limits, and this is something that should be thought about when choosing acetaminophen.
We should mention, in regards to Acetaminophen, that a recent study in 2014 saw a possible relation between long term Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) usage (during pregnancy) and ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), especially after 20 weeks gestation. Short-term use for occasional colds and other ailments is still felt by most medical authorities to being safe while pregnant.
In addition, 25 to 50 mg of Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) at night and 30 to 60 mg of Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®) every 4 to 6 hours during the day will usually help with the congestion. Both are felt to be safe by the majority of medical care providers. Benadryl will also help you get some well-needed sleep during the night.
Finally, for the cough, any over the counter cough syrup with Dextromethorphan (DM), such as Robitussin DM®, is felt to be safe as well. If you have a sore throat, gargling with salt water is a safe and effective home remedy you can use while pregnant and it’s really the first thing you can do to fight infection in your throat.
This is how you do it:
- Gather a cup, a tablespoon and some table salt. Fill your cup half way up with warm tap water and then add 2 tablespoons of table salt. Stir with the spoon until the salt dissolves.
- Take a large sip of the water and then swish it around your mouth before gargling it for about 15 seconds and then spit it out. Be careful to not swallow it!
- Repeat this about 5 times and then swish your mouth with regular water to remove some of the salty taste.
You can repeat this 2 to 3 times per day. The salt dries up the infection in your throat and mouth.