Flu during Pregnancy
Your approach to life changes when you become pregnant. Everything you do has an impact on your body and your yet-to-be-born baby. This realization makes catching flu more complicated. Catching flu during pregnancy is one of the worst nightmares for almost all moms-to-be. If you become sick with flu, you may worry about the infection affecting your unborn baby. And what if you suffer from a high fever or recurrent diarrhea? Could those symptoms hurt your yet-to-be-born baby?
If not pregnant, you may have taken an over-the-counter painkiller, nasal decongestant, or a cough syrup, but now you might wonder: Is it safe? Could any of these medications cause problems for your yet-to-be-born baby?
Dr. Amaya Carreras Ugarte, Obstetrician / Gynecologist at the German Medical Center FZ-LLC, has years of experience and expertise in obstetrics and gynecology both in Spain and Dubai. She shares with us her expert advice to combat flu during pregnancy, what risks do flu poses to you and your baby and how can you safely get treated while pregnant, and above all what`s more, important is how to evade catching it all together.
Know the enemy; symptoms to look for…
Flu symptoms vary but usually it encompasses fever, runny and/or blocked nose, sore throat, body aches, malaise, cough +/- phlegm, and headache. Some people may also have symptoms related to digestive tract like vomiting and diarrhea. Flu usually hits like a fast-moving train with you feeling ok at the beginning of the day, tired and feeling drained by mid-afternoon, and with full-blown picture + high fever by evening.
How do you get the flu…
In general, flu is pretty common (pregnant women tend to have a higher risk of catching flu because their immune system is weakened during pregnancy). The causative virus spreads through air, or by direct contact with an infected/recovering person; when someone with the flu coughs or sneezes nearby, the virus spreads through the air and you can get infected if you breathe in, or if you touch something (like a door handle or a phone) that has the flu virus on it, or shake hands with an infected person and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth.
Can flu affect your baby?
The good news is that a common cold or even mild flu will not harm your baby while you are pregnant. However, if your status goes beyond control you have to pay your Obstetrician a visit at once. Severe dehydration specifically can lead to preterm contractions, and a high fever may also affect your baby’s development if you’re still in the first trimester. So if you do come down with flu, it’s crucial to make sure you keep your fever down, stay well-hydrated and get enough rest. And if you can’t keep any fluids down because of associating vomiting or you keep on losing fluids through loose bowel motions, be sure to let your Obstetrician know.
What’s the best way to treat the flu during pregnancy?
Try these natural flu remedies;
Use sugar or honey-based lozenges to relieve sore throats and cough,
Get plenty of rest, and raise your head while sleeping to ease nasal congestion
Drink ample fluids such as water, fresh juice, as well as warm drinks in case of throat ache,
Put an air humidifier in your room to provide extra moisture, it can help reduce congestion,
Few over-the-counter medications can help and are known to be safe during pregnancy; Paracetamol is safe to take for a headache, sore throat and body aches, provided that you don`t exceed two 500 mg tabs. at one time, and no more than eight tablets/day.
How to protect yourself and your unborn child from the flu?
Avoid sharing food, utensils, or cups with others,
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and throat & wash your hands frequently,
Carry hand sanitizer with you, and use it often during the day,
Stay away from family members who show signs of infection (e.g. sneezing/coughing)
Sleep well and consume healthy food
Remain hydrated; drink plenty of water frequently
Get the flu shot. It is encouraged for all pregnant women to get the flu shot (unless they have a significant allergy to eggs or the flu vaccine). The beneficial thing about getting the flu shot while you’re pregnant is that your baby will receive a boost of passive immunity against the flu virus too. It will give the baby some protection after birth (up to 6 months old) from flu.
It is important to call your Obstetrician if your symptoms are causing you not eat or sleep well, or if they last for more than a couple of days without improving. It is also important to have an urgent consultation if you develop a fever that is 38° Celsius or higher.
Lastly, if you start to feel dizzy, confused, or if you begin to cough up discolored mucus or feel chest discomfort and/or wheezing, make sure to call your Obstetrician promptly.
*Featured image: http://diseasespictures.com/