by Patricia Hughes
The fall and winter seasons bring cooler temperatures and more bugs. Pregnant women are more susceptible to illness, since the immune system is suppressed naturally to prevent your body from rejecting your baby. This lowered immunity combined with increased estrogen levels, which swell the mucous membranes of the body, can leave you feeling terrible. The best way to stay healthy during the cold and flu season is a combination of prevention and treatment if you do get sick.
Talk to your doctor about treating the symptoms of [tag-ice]colds[/tag-ice] or [tag-tec]flu[/tag-tec]. Some medications are considered safe for pregnant women. Certain medications may not be safe for your baby. Rather than trying to navigate which are safe and which should be avoided, call your doctor. He will be able to tell you what is both safe for baby and effective for treating your symptoms.
A fever can be a good thing when you aren’t pregnant. This is how your body fights infection and it is a very effective method. However, fevers can be very serious when you are pregnant. They must be treated right away. A high fever can cause the baby to be over heated. In early pregnancy, a high fever can increase your baby’s risk of neural tube defects. If you are running a fever, call your doctor for advice on how to treat it.
Your doctor may recommend a flu shot during your [tag-cat]pregnancy[/tag-tec]. Because the flu changes each season, a new flu shot is needed every year. The shot is not recommended for all women. If you are allergic to eggs, you can’t get the flu shot. The virus is grown in eggs for the vaccine. Keep in mind that the flu shot only offers protection for one form of the virus and no other viruses. You will need to continue to protect yourself from germs to avoid getting another illness.
There are other ways to protect yourself during the cold and flu season. The Centers for Disease Control recommends several ways to prevent illness. Stay away from people who are sick when you are pregnant. Avoiding sick people can help prevent the spread of germs and keep you healthy. If you know a nasty cold or flu bug is going around, stay out of crowded places.
Wash your hands frequently and use disinfectants in cleaning to help kill germs. Frequent hand washing has been shown to be an effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Clean surfaces in your home and work area with a disinfectant cleaner. Spray areas with a home made solution of ten parts water to one part bleach to kill germs in the kitchen and bathroom areas.
Most pregnant women try to rely on natural remedies, rather than medications whenever possible. These home remedies make you feel better. There is evidence that some of grandma’s remedies actually do work. Chicken soup has been found in studies to be an effective way of relieving cold symptoms. Be sure to get plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Go to bed as soon as you begin to feel sick. Get plenty of rest to help your body heal. Prop your head with a few pillows to help you breathe easier. If you are congested, a humidifier placed on a table near the bed can be an effective way to clear your congestion without taking medicine.
Tea with honey helps congestion and sore throats. Make a warm cup of tea and add a teaspoon of honey. Your sore throat may also be helped by gargling with salt water. Fill a cup of warm water and stir in a tablespoon of salt. Gargle with the solution a few times each day to help relieve a sore throat.
If your symptoms don’t improve or get worse, call your doctor. Some illnesses, such as bronchitis and strep may require an antibiotic. Your doctor will determine if this is needed and will prescribe an antibiotic that is safe for use during pregnancy. Call the doctor if your symptoms suddenly get worse and you can’t keep down food or are worried about dehydration.
** Note, this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness or disease, but help make people aware of some common illnesses that can occur during pregnancy. Nor is this article intended to be all inclusive. Please bring any concerns immediately to your health care professional. This is a delicate time for both the mother and the baby and while you might be able to fight off a cold or flu when not pregnant, you may not be able to when pregnant. Its always best to call and ask your health care professional than do nothing and have something turn more serious. **
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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