Prenatal Health — Cold and Flu

A cold is an acute inflammation of the upper respiratory tract involving the nose and throat. Symptoms usually come on suddenly. There may be headache, loss of smell or taste, vague aches, and occasionally a cough occurs. Later the nose becomes obstructed, necessitating constant blowing.

Influenza is a viral respiratory infection that usually occurs in the winter months. Symptoms appear suddenly and include chills, fever, headache, and aches in the back, muscles, and joints. Weakness, excessive fatigue, and sweating are common. There may be mild cold symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and dry or hacking cough.

Colds and upper respiratory infections are almost always viral. There is no treatment for viral infections, so they just have to run their course. Therefore, antibiotics are not helpful for most colds. When you are pregnant, a cold or upper respiratory infection often will last twice as long because your immune system is more stressed from the demands of the pregnancy.

Treatment involves controlling the symptoms and keeping yourself comfortable during illness. The medications mentioned below are used frequently during pregnancy and believed to be safe for you and your baby if used in moderation. Antibiotics are prescribed only if a secondary bacterial infection occurs. If antibiotics are needed, we will prescribe one that is safe for use during pregnancy. For more information on medications, see our Commonly Used Medications page.

Treatment of cold and flu

1. Increase rest

2. Increase fluid intake

3. Fever

  • Try to keep your temperature below 100.4° F.
  • Light, loose clothing allows heat to escape from your body.
  • Wrapping up in a blanket or sweater retains your body heat.
  • A lukewarm bath may help lower your body temperature.
  • Use Tylenol according to the package directions.

4. Congestion

  • Extra humidity can relieve nasal stuffiness.
  • Irrigate the nasal passages using a neti pot and warm saline water.

5. Cough

  • Robitussin DM cough medicines is recommended as needed.

WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR

  • If you have severe abdominal pain.
  • If you have more than 10 stools or vomit more than 10 times per day.
  • If you have blood in the stool or vomit.
  • If you have symptoms of preterm labor. Intestinal cramps are usually relieved with the passage of stool. Contractions, on the other hand, continue and cause the uterus to ball up or become firm.
  • If you have vaginal bleeding or symptoms of ruptured membranes.
  • If you have been on a clear liquid diet for vomiting or a BRAT diet for diarrhea for at least 24 hours and your symptoms haven’t improved.
  • If your temperature is over 100.4°, 2 times and 6 hours apart.
  • If you have severe chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • If you have cold and flu symptoms lasting more than 7 days.