During pregnancy, the immunity level of a woman will lower than normal. This suppression of immunity is the nature’s mechanism, which actually keeps the body from fighting off the baby, who is, technically, a “foreign body” and our body always has a tendency to eliminate anything that seems foreign to it. The drawback of this immune suppression is that the body may not be able to fight off even simple infections. This will make the expecting mother more vulnerable to common infections like the cold and flu (also known as influenza).
Unlike when you are not pregnant, during pregnancy, there are several things to take care of, even if you catch otherwise harmless and quite common cold and flu. This article will help you to deal with cold and flu during your gestation period safer and better.
Does The Cold And Flu Infection Of Mother Harm The Unborn Baby?
Initially, cold and flu (during pregnancy) were thought to be a mere annoying infection, which will only increase the uneasiness and discomfort of the pregnant woman. The child in the womb is not supposed to be affected if the mother is infected with common cold or influenza.
However, recent research was done among 500 children (by following them from birth to 5 years old and closely monitoring the health of the mother throughout the pregnancy). These mothers got more than three colds that were moderate to severe. A mild cold, which is very common, is not counted in the course of pregnancy, and these kids were found to be twice as prone to develop asthma by their fifth birthday. The experts are, however, unable to make out the precise cause of this connection. Some experts guess this is because of some genetic reasons. That is, if the mother has a gene that increases her risk of upper respiratory tract infection, it can be passed to the baby, increasing the baby’s risk of developing asthma after birth.
What Are The Differences Between Cold And Flu?
A different group of virus causes the flu, and its symptoms will be more intense than cold. Here are the main differences between cold and flu:
Differences Between Colds And Flus
Causes a blocked nose and then a runny nose
Infectious and severe symptoms
Symptoms of a cold develop gradually
The onset of flu will be sudden
There will be little (less than 100F) or no fever
High fever (102°F to 104°F or higher) accompanies the flu
A sore throat that develops with the cold will disappear in a couple of days
The sore throat will start to worsen by the second or third day
Mild headache (occasionally)
Severe headache is common
Extreme weakness/ fatigue
How Can I Prevent Cold During Pregnancy?
With more than 200 types of cold virus roaming around, it can be difficult to escape from getting a cold. That is why it is called “common cold.” You can easily get the infection by touching the infected surfaces or through cough and sneeze of the infected person. In spite of these facts, by taking specific measures, you can decrease the chances of catching a cold during pregnancy:
Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching common surfaces
Clean the surfaces you usually contact with a powerful disinfectant. The infectious microorganisms can live on the solid surfaces from two to eight hours
Stay away from the people infected with a cold
Minimize going to public places, especially closed areas like an air-conditioned auditorium, theater, etc.
In the course of pregnancy, never share your personal things like plates, glasses, towels, combs, etc. even with your near and dear ones
How Can We Treat Cold During Pregnancy?
There are no treatments for the virus that causes the common cold. Medicines are usually taken to soothe the symptoms rather than cure a cold. The cold will resolve itself within a week. Many of the medications you use to alleviate the annoying symptoms of cold are usually not safe to take in the course of pregnancy. Particularly during the first three months, you should avoid taking any medicines as much as possible. Never take medicine without the approval of your doctor. If the symptoms of cold are bothering you a lot, the following will help you to get relief faster:
Inhaling steam or using a saltwater nasal spray will help to relieve fast from a stuffed nose, a bothersome sign of the common cold
Eat well. Though cold trigger the loss of appetite, try to eat healthy food, as it will help you feel stronger and fight the fatigue
Eat food that is rich in vitamin C as it aids in increasing the resistance level of the body against mild infections. Oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, etc. are rich in vitamin C
While lying down, elevate your head with a couple of pillows. This will make the nasal passage to open more, thereby, help you to breathe easier
Keeping a humidifier in the room will also help you breathe easy
Take plenty of rest. This will help the cold symptoms to settle fast
How Can Flu Be Treated During Pregnancy?
You can take plenty of rest and keep yourself warm if you happen to catch the flu during pregnancy. Avoiding dehydration is a must, and you may take paracetamol (after confirming from your doctor) to lower a fever if it has been running high. Your doctor may recommend antiviral medicines that may reduce the risk for potential complications though they will not cure the flu. In case you think you have contracted flu, contact your doctor immediately to avoid the risk of complications.
When Should I Seek Medical Attention When I Am Undergoing Cold?
Pregnancy is not a time to ignore even a common cold. Therefore, consult your gynecologist if:
The symptoms last for more than three days (medical attention is necessary to avoid the possibility of secondary infections)
Even after a couple of days, instead of starting to decrease, if the symptoms rather start to worsen
If your temperature rises over 100.5 F
Severe sinus with a pulsating headache
If the mucus from the nose starts to change to yellow color (which indicates severe infection)
What Is The Importance Of Flu Vaccination During Pregnancy?
Unlike the common cold, if the expecting mother develops flu, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, have higher chances of developing secondary complications, such as bronchitis (which, if ignored, can be developed into pneumonia). This, in turn, increases the risk of complications during pregnancy like preterm labor and premature birth. Taking a flu shot (it can be taken during any trimester) will shield the expecting mother as well as the baby (till six months after delivery) as the antibodies will be passed to the fetus by the mother. The flu vaccination, though, may have some mild side effects like redness or swelling in the area where the shot has been taken, mild headache and mild fever, (which will disappear within a couple of days) is perfectly safe to have during pregnancy. All the same, if you have a severe allergic reaction to any of the constituents of the vaccine, you should not take the shot.