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- What Is Flu or Influenza?
- How Does It Spread?
- Signs and Symptoms of Influenza in Pregnancy
- How Can Flu Affect Your Pregnancy?
- Treatment for Pregnancy Flu
- Suggested Medications
- Is It Safe to Get Flu Vaccine in Pregnancy?
- Tips to Feel Better
- How to Prevent Flu When Pregnant
- How Can You Stop the Flu From Spreading?
- When to Call the Doctor
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Nobody likes being sick and more so if you are pregnant! In pregnancy, anything that happens to the mother may affect her unborn child as well. This concern makes any illness in pregnancy, a matter of concern to the would-be mother. Here we shall guide you on how to deal effectively with flu during pregnancy.
What Is Flu or Influenza?
Your immune system suppresses during pregnancy to support your unborn child, and this makes you more prone to illnesses like cold, flu and other such ailments. Flu or Influenza is not just a cough or common cold rather it is a more serious ailment. You may not only have a running and stuffy nose along with a sore throat, but you may feel very sick. Flu during pregnancy may cause some serious complications.
How Does It Spread?
Flu is a communicable disease, and therefore it spreads from one person to another. You may catch this infection if an infected person sneezes, coughs or even speaks to you. The flu virus travels through the air which makes it easier for it to travel from one person to another. You may also catch this virus by touching things that are commonly touched by everyone such as, phone, door handles, chair armrests etc. that have flu virus on them. Therefore, if you come in contact with an infected person you can easily get infected with flu.
Signs and Symptoms of Influenza in Pregnancy
If you have flu during pregnancy, then you notice the following symptoms:
- A sore throat that may aggravate by the second or third day after catching the infection.
- Fever that may range from 102 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Your muscles may feel sore.
- A headache
- A feeling of fatigue and general weakness
- A cough that may aggravate quickly
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
Usually, the symptoms of flu may last for up to two weeks, but in some cases, they may last longer than usual.
How Can Flu Affect Your Pregnancy?
Flu may affect you and your baby if you catch his infection in pregnancy. However, not all moms-to-be will have complications or will be adversely affected by this viral infection. Some of the risks for the mother and her unborn baby may include the following:
1. Risks to Mother
Due to a weaker immune system in pregnancy, you are more prone to falling ill. Flu in pregnancy may lead to pneumonia and may also cause infection in your lungs and heart.
2. Risks to Baby
If you have flu in pregnancy, it will not only affect your health but may lead to health complications for your unborn child also. If you have a high fever in the first trimester, it may cause developmental issues in your baby. Influenza in pregnancy may lead to preterm labor and in some cases miscarriage also.
Treatment for Pregnancy Flu
As soon as you register symptoms of flu, it is advisable to seek medical help. Your doctor may prescribe you medicines based on your symptoms. It is best to take timely medicines to avoid complications that may result from flu. You may increase your fluid intake and take adequate rest to help your body heal faster. Eat small and frequent meals to provide energy to the body.
Some of the suggested course of treatment may include, either of the following:
Paracetamol is an extremely safe medicine and may be prescribed by your doctor for bringing down fever and provide relief from pains and aches.
Ibuprofen should not be taken during pregnancy and may lead to complications. It is best to avoid this medicine in pregnancy.
Your doctor may put you on a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating secondary infections, which may develop due to flu.
It is recommended to take any medication after consulting your doctor. Self-medication or taking medicines without any prescription from your doctor may lead to complications.
Is It Safe to Get Flu Vaccine in Pregnancy?
A flu vaccine is safe in pregnancy, and there is no scientific evidence that proves otherwise. The flu vaccine during pregnancy not only protects you from getting into serious complication during your pregnancy but it also protects your baby against flu, for a few months after birth.
Tips to Feel Better
Though the medicines will take their due course of time to treat you, you may follow the following tips that will help you feel better:
- Keep yourself hydrated by consuming ample fluids: Consuming more fluids helps your body to fight the flu.
- Get adequate rest and sleep: Getting good rest and sleep is a good option for feeling better in flu.
- Include more Vitamin C rich foods (guava, capsicum, etc.), leafy vegetables (spinach) and lentils, as these will help you fight the infection
- Eat light and frequent meals: You may not feel like eating if you have flu, which is very normal. It is better to eat small and frequent meals rather than stuffing yourself at one time. You may include porridges and soups in your diet.
- Gargling with salted water: Gargling with warm salted water four to five times a day is a good way to soothe a sore throat.
- Steaming: You may take steam as it is a good option to open up a blocked and stuffy nose. You may even add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water for better results.
- You may have decoction make from holy basil, ginger, lemon, and honey to soothe your throat.
How to Prevent Flu When Pregnant
Although there are no sure shot ways of avoiding the infection, your chances of catching the infection may reduce considerably by adopting the following flu remedies while pregnant:
- Wash your hands often: Washing your hand regularly reduces the chances of getting this deadly infection.
- Being careful during changing seasons: It is often seen that viral infections, such as flu are more common during changing seasons, especially in winters. Therefore, being extra careful during the changing seasons saves you from getting infected.
- Avoid close contact with infected people: It is suggested that you should avoid people who are infected with flu. You may cover your mouth from stopping the virus from entering your body.
- Staying away from crowded places: You should refrain from going to areas or places which are overcrowded as it will make you more susceptible to the infection. In case you have a school going child at home, it is advised to keep a close tab for any symptoms of flu.
- Eating a healthy diet: A good and healthy diet in pregnancy reduces your chances of getting flu.
- Reducing stress and exercising regularly helps your body to remain healthy in pregnancy and prevents you from catching flu and other infections.
- Take a flu shot: You may also opt for a flu shot to prevent yourself from flu. You may talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot.
How Can You Stop the Flu From Spreading?
If you have flu, you can easily spread this virus to the people around you. Here are some of the measures that you may take to stop it from spreading:
- The best you can do is, stay home if you have flu. Limiting your contact with other people will restrict the virus from spreading.
- Every time you cough or sneeze, you should cover your mouth with disposable tissue. Discard the used tissue after every use.
- Refrain from kissing anyone.
- You must wash your hands with soap and water before touching anyone. You may also use sanitizers for cleaning your hands regularly.
- Do not touch your nose, eyes and mouth often because you will get the virus on your hands which can be passed on easily through contact.
- Refrain from sharing your utensils, dishes or glasses with anyone.
- You may use hot water and soap to clean your glasses and dishes.
When to Call the Doctor
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor right away:
- If you experience any difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath.
- If you feel any pressure or pain in your chest or tummy
- If you notice sudden sings of dizziness or confusion
- If you are vomiting more than usual
- If you notice any blood in your pee or any sign of vaginal bleeding
- If you have a high fever for more than 24 hours (102 degrees Fahrenheit or more)
- If you notice less or decreased foetal movement or no movement
Any of the above symptoms can lead to severe complications for you and your baby. Therefore it is suggested to get in touch with your health care practitioner as soon as you register any of the above symptoms.
If you think that you have flu-like symptoms, acting promptly will surely help. You may talk to your doctor and explain your symptoms. Quick and timely treatment of flu in pregnancy can ward off serious complications.
Also Read: Bronchitis in Pregnancy