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Your body can be extremely vulnerable during pregnancy, as your hormones go through an imbalance and your immune system is weak. One of the most common conditions that women face during pregnancy is a fever. Fevers are spikes in the body temperature that can lead to severe weakness, chills, and be accompanied by a runny nose or a cold.
Fevers can be caused due to numerous reasons, like:
- A viral infection
- A bacterial infection
- A weakened immune system
- Foreign entities in the body
- Severe pain
- Change in body composition
A fever can further suppress an already overworked immune system. There is no need to panic, however, as a fever could be potentially unrelated to your pregnancy and it runs no risk to the pregnancy itself.
Can Fever Be a Sign of Pregnancy?
On a happier account, a fever could be a sign of pregnancy! However, fever alone isn’t a sign of pregnancy. In case there are other symptoms accompanying the fever, the hike in temperature is most likely a sign of it. Some of the other symptoms include:
- Morning sickness
- A rapid change in appetite
- Extreme mood swings
- Headaches or migraines
What Temperature Is Considered a Fever?
When the body temperature is compromised and is too high, it can be indicative of a fever. An average adult has a body temperature between 95 and 97 degrees Fahrenheit, or between 38 and 38.5 degrees Celsius. Any temperature spike that exceeds this range falls into the ‘fever’ category.
Causes of Fever During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a number of other conditions could cause a fever. Some of these are:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Gastrointestinal viruses (Stomach flu)
- Influenza, also known as the flu
- Upper respiratory infections, more commonly known as a cold
- Food poisoning
These conditions are common and can usually be treated by medication and rest. There are a few more serious conditions that a fever could indicate which are less common but could potentially be dangerous, and some of them are:
1. Septic Abortion
Septic abortion is a condition where the uterus becomes completely infected due to an abortion or medical and surgically treated miscarriages. Other potential signs of septic abortions include low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, difficulty excreting any stool or urine, low or high body temperature.
This is a condition that is commonly caused due to the consumption of contaminated or expired foods. Women who are pregnant have weakened immune systems caused by extreme hormonal imbalances, which increase the risk of them getting affected by this condition. If left untreated, this condition could potentially lead to miscarriages, infections to the foetus or newborn, stillbirth, and premature delivery. A fever accompanied by nausea, diarrhoea, confusion, headaches, loss of balance, a stiff neck, and convulsions are signs of listeria.
Chorion and amnion are membranes that surround the uterus – these, along with the amniotic fluid are important to ensure the health and survival of the foetus, Chorioamnionitis is a type of bacterial infection that affects these regions. If left untreated, this condition could cause major complications to the mother, such as pelvic infections, abdominal infections, blood clots, and endometritis. Furthermore, the baby could also face complications like respiratory infections, meningitis, and sepsis. A major concern for mothers who are afflicted by this infection is a condition called amniocentesis. If the fever is accompanied by other relevant symptoms like unusual amounts of sweat, a rapid heartbeat, abnormal discharge from the vagina, and a tender uterus, it could be a sign of chorioamnionitis.
Symptoms of a Pregnancy Fever
Fevers caused by pregnancy could have numerous symptoms, like:
- Pain in the joints
- Blurry vision
- A bitter taste in the tongue
It is recommended that you get a complete diagnosis and keep in touch with your OB/GYN when you have a fever during pregnancy.
Is It Food Poisoning?
A potential cause of fever could be food poisoning. Under most circumstances, food poisoning is accompanied by fever and a few other symptoms like:
- Stomach discomfort
Effects of Fever on Pregnancy
A fever during pregnancy is mostly harmless. It is, however, recommended that you keep an eye on how high your temperature is. A high fever during pregnancy that is left unmonitored and untreated appropriately could lead to devastating side-effects like a miscarriage or could be potentially fatal to you and your baby. If the fever doesn’t go away in a day or two, it could be a sign of some form of infection.
Can Pregnancy Fever Affect Your Baby?
In most cases, a fever with no other signs or symptoms is harmless to your baby. This, however, could change if the fever is extremely high. A high fever could lead to potential growth or developmental defects, miscarriages, a potential weakened immune system for the child, brain damage, and susceptibility to infections.
Most of the common treatments for fever can be treated with rest. However, if there is an infection, doctors may prescribe a course of antibiotics. Most of the conditions mentioned above can be treated with a combination of medication and rest. Here are a few ways the doctors may treat the more serious causes of fever during pregnancy:
1. Treatment of Fever in Case of Septic Abortion
Your doctor will treat this condition by flushing the contents out of the uterus. This is because the infection could linger if left alone. This with a combination of medication and rest is recommended.
2. Treatment of Fever in Case of Listeria
Doctors recommend rest and antibiotics to treat this condition. They will also ask you to avoid certain foods like luncheon meat unless reheated or cooked at a required temperature, raw seafood like sushi, uncooked or half-cooked or smoked seafood, soft cheeses, etc.
3. Treatment of Fever in Case of Chorioamnionitis
If a mother is suspected of having this condition, doctors will prescribe strong medication for both mother and baby and may go ahead with the early delivery of the baby. Both mother and baby will be kept under observation for a period of time, and once discharged, doctors will recommend rest for a week or two.
Under most conditions, doctors may recommend treating your fever with over-the-counter medication with low doses. Paracetamol tablets are the most common form of medication prescribed for fevers and can be bought at nearly any pharmacy. Fever medicine in pregnancy can lead to side-effects for both you and your baby. It is always best to consult your doctor before taking any form of medication.
Here are some natural remedies to help alleviate your fever:
1. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Drink plenty of fluids. Non-carbonated and electrolyte-infused drinks are the best. They not only keep you hydrated but also bring your temperature down and provide strength.
2. Herbal Tea
Different teas can help boost immunity. Also, drinking a cup of warm tea can help soothe the throat and chest, which subsequently helps ease congestion if you have any.
3. Rest It Out
Plenty of rest will make all the difference. Give your body the time to recoup and function. The inactivity will help to gain strength and prevent any further aggravation.
4. Salt Water Gargle
When your fever is an addition to flu symptoms, this remedy can be beneficial. Salt is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that also has numerous properties that combat fevers and bacterial or viral infections. Using warm water with a teaspoon of salt mixed in it to gargle can soothe the throat as well as help decrease the congestion and mucus in the region.
One of the most effective ways to ease a fever is by boiling water and adding some menthol salve in it, covering your head with a towel and allowing the treated steam to make its way into your nasal cavity and pores. This opens your pores, helping sweat out the fever. This also eases respiratory congestion and throat congestion.
Tips to Deal with Pregnancy Fever
Here are a few tips to help you fight a fever when pregnant:
- Stay in an open and cool area
- Get adequate rest
- Stay indoors
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing
- Sit under a ceiling fan
- Avoid the AC
- If you have the chills, use a blanket
How to Prevent Fever
Prevention is the best cure! Sometimes you can’t prevent a fever when you’re pregnant due to extreme hormonal imbalance and weak immunity, but here are a few tips to help decrease the chances of you getting one:
- Consume the required amount of vitamin C
- Wash your hands regularly with soap
- Ensure you get your shots, vaccines help avoid flu-like H1N1
- Avoid unpasteurised milk
- Avoid foods that can aggravate or cause allergies
Here are some frequently asked questions about fever during pregnancy.
1. How Can I Treat Hay Fever During Pregnancy?
It is recommended that you consult a physician about treating hay fever during pregnancy. They will most likely prescribe antihistamines and paracetamol tablets to help treat the condition. It is also recommended that you avoid products and foods you may be allergic to.
2. Is Scarlet Fever Harmful During Pregnancy?
It is a myth that scarlet fever will harm your baby during pregnancy. If you have scarlet fever during the delivery of your child, there are chances the baby may have it as well. There is no documented evidence that points to your child being harmed by scarlet fever otherwise.
3. What Are the Risk Factors of a Dengue Fever in Pregnancy?
There can be numerous risks that dengue fever can cause, especially if you’re pregnant. This is because dengue fever affects your platelet count. It is recommended that you consult your doctor to understand the complete risk factors of dengue during pregnancy.
4. Is Glandular Fever Harmful?
Glandular fever is a flu more commonly known as kissing flu. This type of flu under normal circumstances is not going to put your baby at risk. The condition itself can be treated through medication and rest. Consult your doctor for more information.
5. Can I Get a Fever in the First Trimester?
It is extremely common to have a fever during the first trimester as this is the time your body is adapting to the development of a foetus. This could also be due to a weakening immune system. Consult your doctor to better understand the safety parameters of fever during this time, and do not ignore the symptoms.
A study conducted on animal embryos in 2017 showed that fever during early pregnancy could have an adverse impact on the developing foetus. Scientists discovered that the fever itself (and not the cause of fever) has the ability to interfere with the jaw and heart between week 3 and 8 of the pregnancy. The scientists also said that the risk of congenital birth defects can be prevented by taking the fever seriously as soon as the mother suspects it and takes medication for the same, prescribed by the doctor. However, it is important to note that such studies are still nascent, and several other studies are required to strengthen these findings.
It is common to be concerned about the conditions you or your partner may deal with during pregnancy. The unknown is a scary place to be after all, but it is important to stay calm and not panic. Share the symptoms and concerns you may have with your doctor so they can help you diagnose the problems and treat them. In most cases, fevers will come and go without causing any harm to your pregnancy.
Resources and References: Healthline
Also Read: Bronchitis in Pregnancy