Pregnancy is a joyful and miraculous experience for most people, but it does come with a few discomforts and a need to make some lifestyle changes. It is important to keep good health during this time, as a woman’s changing body can become prone to certain ailments.
If you have a stuffy nose during pregnancy, chances are you may have pregnancy rhinitis. While some pregnancy-related conditions are well known to most people, pregnancy rhinitis is not one of them.
Here we will discuss this less-known pregnancy condition, what causes it, its symptoms, and what home remedies have been known to bring relief.
What Is Pregnancy Rhinitis?
During pregnancy, the blocked nose that makes it hard to sleep sometimes could be Pregnancy Rhinitis, though it may appear to be the common cold or the flu. There are times when it is even mistaken for conditions related to the sinus, as well as an allergic reaction.
However, upon further inspection, the condition does not seem to be linked to any virus or medical condition. The condition is linked instead to the changing hormones that take place during pregnancy. This is what Pregnancy Rhinitis essentially is.
Though quite a few women suffer from this condition during pregnancy, it is hardly ever a serious medical problem other than to cause a lot of discomfort and sleepless nights. Many women manage to find relief through the use of home remedies.
Causes of Rhinitis in Pregnancy
A woman’s body undergoes many changes during pregnancy to make room for and prepare to grow a baby. This includes changes in hormones, something that can cause unwanted side effects. Pregnancy Rhinitis is believed to be primarily caused due to changes in the hormones of an expecting mother. However, there may be other factors that may contribute to its occurrence. Here are some of the believed causes for pregnancy rhinitis:
Allergic reactions tend to have the same symptoms as rhinitis during pregnancy. For pregnant women, their rhinitis may be triggered for similar reasons, such as seasonal allergies or allergies to something in particular.
2. Blood Volume
Along with a change in hormones, the volume of blood in pregnant women may increase. These changes in the body during pregnancy may trigger a bout of pregnancy rhinitis.
Smoking is another potential cause for triggering pregnancy rhinitis. This is not only possible if a pregnant woman smokes, but being exposed to secondhand smoke or coming into regular contact with someone who smokes may also be contributing factors.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Rhinitis
Our bodies work in unique ways. Not every woman will experience pregnancy rhinitis the same way, nor will everyone suffer from the same symptoms. One early sign of pregnancy rhinitis is a “stuffy” feeling that could start congestion. Despite this, there are some symptoms that most women with pregnancy rhinitis experience. They are as follows:
- Stuffy or congested nose
- Runny or itchy nose
- Sneezing and coughing
- Post-nasal drip, where excess amounts of mucus drip down the back of the throat
- An increased feeling of pressure in the ears and may sometimes cause ear infections
- Disturbed sleep
- A compromised sense of smell
- Worsening of the symptoms of asthma
- Triggered sinusitis and headaches
- Eyes that are swollen, watery or itchy
How to Diagnose Rhinitis When Pregnant?
Before your doctor can inform you on whether or not you are suffering from pregnancy rhinitis, you will need to be checked for other potential causes of the symptoms. Only once every other possible cause is ruled out may your doctor be able to diagnose you with pregnancy rhinitis safely. Your doctor will have a few questions and consent to have a few tests run, required to rule out anything like a viral or bacterial infection, sinusitis, and even allergies.
If you have never been tested for allergies before, your doctor may refer you to someone specializing in allergies. This will ensure a proper result and aid in ruling out, or identifying, allergies as the cause of your symptoms. Once your doctor can diagnose your condition, you will move forward to safe ways of getting treatment.
Treatment for Pregnancy Rhinitis
Pregnancy Rhinitis generally goes away on its own after running its course. However, if the symptoms are proving to be too difficult to manage, some treatments may be available to help in relieving the symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis. Here are some of the treatments that may be used to treat pregnancy rhinitis after consulting with your doctor:
1. Nasal Strips
Some nasal strips work very well in keeping the nasal passage open, making breathing a bit easier. This proves especially helpful if breathing is difficult at night, preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.
2. Saline Irrigation
Using saline irrigation does not have any known side effects and can clean out the nasal passage. Just put the solution into one nostril, and it will drain out the other one.
3. Medical Treatment
The doctor may prescribe certain types of medication based on the severity of your condition. One of the safe options that doctors may prescribe is the use of antihistamines. This may help in drying up the mucus in the nasal passageways.
Home Remedies for Rhinitis While Pregnant
Some safe ways will help you find more comfort, and these can be done right at home. Consult the doctor about any home remedy that you are not sure of. Some home remedies that will help treat some of the symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis:
1. Ginger Tea
Have a cup of hot ginger tea to help fight the symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis. Ginger is good for bringing relief as it contains anti-inflammatory properties. A cup made with fresh ginger and honey first thing in the morning can work wonders.
2. Consume More Vitamins
3. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is well known for being able to help relieve congestion in the nasal passage. Just remember to cover your head with a towel to allow the steam to travel to you and prevent it from spreading out across the room. This will help to improve the effectiveness of the treatment.
4. Blow Your Nose
Place a finger on one of your and hold it closed. Then, blow gently out of the other one. This will help clear the nostril passages one at a time by forcing all the air out only through one side. Do the same for the other nostril.
Making it a habit to do a few light exercises every day can help clear out the passages. Cardiovascular exercises are great if you want to improve the flow of air and get better sleep. Exercising outside may cause more irritation if the air is not clean or allergic to something like pollen.
6. Elevate Your Head
Instead of sleeping flat, raise your pillows to raise the upper torso and head halfway to a seated position. This will help you to breathe better and help you to get better sleep.
7. DIY Nasal Lavage
You can safely make your nasal lavage at home. All you need is a tablespoon each of baking soda and salt, as well as one pint of sterile water. Once you have mixed everything well together, you need to pour a little onto the palm of your hand and then sniff it into each of your nostrils in turn. Do this until you feel a sense of relief. You can repeat this three times a day, but make sure that you make a fresh batch each time you do it. Throw out any remaining product after each use.
8. Keep Hydrated
Keep yourself hydrated well, either by drinking water or by consuming enough citric juice per day. This also means giving up caffeine as it can dehydrate the body. By keeping yourself well hydrated, you will help your body reduce any congestion you may have.
9. Use a Humidifier
Humidifiers and vaporizers may help increase the moisture level in your room. Just use them at night while sleeping, and you may find yourself sleeping better. Just make sure to keep your humidifier clean and change the water every day. This helps to prevent unwanted bacterial growth that could worsen your problems.
By applying the right amount of pressure at certain points, you may be able to reduce congestion and mucus. Gently press the bridge of your nose and around your eye sockets for about five minutes. It is best to use your thumbs for this.
11. Consume Horseradish Concoction
You can make your concoction using the healing horseradish. Horseradish is believed to be able to improve your immunity and help to fight against bacteria. Finely chop some apples and horseradish, and then mix the two with a bit of sugar. Two tablespoons a day of this will be able to provide relief from congested or stuffed noses.
12. Avoid Irritants
How Long Does Pregnancy Rhinitis Last?
Pregnancy rhinitis does not have a fixed time limit. Everyone experiences it differently, and while some may experience it throughout pregnancy, others may find that it comes and goes throughout. Generally, it is said to last for about six weeks or more.
When it comes to the condition, pregnancy rhinitis third trimester may be the most uncomfortable time as some expecting mothers may experience a worsening of their condition as their pregnancy progresses. Pregnancy rhinitis will always clear up around two weeks after you have given birth.
When to Contact a Doctor and What to Expect?
If you experience aggravated symptoms or cannot find relief with any of your home remedies, it may be time to seek help from your doctor. Your doctor will help you find a way to get relief from the symptoms you are experiencing based on your condition.
Those who find that their symptoms continue even after two weeks post-delivery should also contact their doctor. As the symptoms compromise the respiratory system, you may find yourself developing other problems, such as snoring or the inability to sleep due to a stuffy nose. In such instances, it is best to seek help from your doctor.
At the hospital, you may be required to run some tests to help your doctor assess your condition much better. If you have already taken medication to help with your condition, it is best to let your doctor know. However, it is best to avoid taking any medication without consulting your doctor, as not all medications are safe for your unborn child.
Your doctor will also give you a thorough examination, where you will have your airways, ears, nose, and throat examined. Some of the tests you may find yourself required to take to rule out any underlying conditions are cultures of the throat and sputum, skin and blood tests to check for any allergies, and an X-Ray of the chest and sinuses.
Depending on what your doctor finds about your condition, you will be prescribed the appropriate medication.
Though having a stuffed nose is something that we have all experienced many times in our lives, it is best to consult with your doctor before taking any medication. This includes medication that you may have taken to help with your condition before. Not all medication is safe for pregnant women as it can harm your baby, especially when experiencing rhinitis in early pregnancy.
A good way to avoid triggering pregnancy rhinitis and help heal faster is to make sure to eat well, stay hydrated, and set aside some time every day to do a little exercising. If you have never exercised before or are not sure what you can do while pregnant, you can always ask your doctor to help you come up with an exercise routine or find an expert to help.