Sneezing in Pregnancy – Causes, Effects and Treatment

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A pregnant woman sneezing

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Sneezing during pregnancy is quite common and normal. The only issue is that it can be troublesome, but there is nothing to be worried about if you start sneezing more than usual during pregnancy. This condition is medically known as ‘Pregnancy Rhinitis’ and affects about 18-42% of pregnant women. Let’s take a look at how pregnancy rhinitis develops.

How Does Pregnancy Rhinitis Develop

During pregnancy, everything becomes very sensitive, including your nasal passage and your respiratory system. You could develop allergies towards the things that you were never allergic to. The increase in the volume of blood can trigger swelling of the capillaries in your nose and lead to congestion in the nasal passage. Moreover, the pregnancy hormones can cause more mucus production and can also aggravate a cold-like condition resulting in nasal congestion, sniffles, and continuous sneezing.

Usually, these sniffles and sneezing won’t bother much unless you are sick. But, during pregnancy, it may worry you or raise questions in your mind. As mentioned earlier, sneezing during pregnancy is normal, but could lead to some physical issues. In the article below, we have tried to address all the possible questions you might have about sneezing during pregnancy. Read on to know more.

Is Sneezing Harmful During Pregnancy?

Every women’s’ immune system faces an all-time low during pregnancy. Low immunity causes an increase in sensitivity which results in allergic reactions and may cause inflammation in the nasal passage, throat and the respiratory system. Although continuous sneezing during pregnancy can be troublesome and tiring, it is not at all harmful.

What Causes Sneezing in Pregnancy?

Cold, sniffling and sneezing go hand in hand during pregnancy. There are many reasons for it.

  • Pregnancy rhinitis is one of the major reasons behind the cold and sneezing during pregnancy. Since the volume of blood increases in a pregnant woman’s body, the blood capillaries swell up in the nose, and the increase in mucus production makes the nasal passage swell too. This leads to sniffles, nose congestion and inflammation in the nasal passage and respiratory system.
  • Pregnancy brings along a lot of health issues; common cold is one of them. This is caused due to a weak immune system which makes the body incompetent to fight against cough and cold.
  • Allergies are another reason for cold and sneezing in women during pregnancy. The existing allergies could be aggravated, and some new allergies may also develop during pregnancy.

Why Does Sneezing Hurt During Pregnancy?

The pain that pregnant ladies experience while sneezing is mainly due to the stretch in the round ligament that connects the groin to the front of the uterus. It is one of the ligaments that supports and surrounds the uterus. When a pregnant woman sneezes, the round ligament tightens quickly as a counter-reaction to the sudden movement. This causes a sharp pain, which is common and nothing to be worried about.

However, in some rare cases, the pain while sneezing during pregnancy can be due to some underlying health condition like a cyst. Pregnant women who suffer from sciatica or pain in the pelvic girdle may also experience sharp pain while sneezing.

Does Sneezing Affect the Pregnant Mother and the Baby?

A pregnant woman sneezing

Sneezing during pregnancy is due to inflammation of the mucous membranes, which causes irritation and leads to continuous sneezing, cold-like symptoms, and coughing. If it is not accompanied by body ache and fever, it may just be a case of pregnancy rhinitis, which usually starts around the 8th week of pregnancy.

Sneezing during pregnancy can be termed as safe for the mother as well as the baby in the womb. It usually disappears in a couple of weeks after the delivery. Although it is absolutely normal and nothing to be worried about, in some rare cases, it can trigger back pain, stiffness in the jaw and injury in the respiratory tract. The baby, however, is very well protected in the womb. She may feel like being rocked when her mother sneezes, so she actually feels comfortable inside the womb.

Urine Leakage Due to Sneezing During Pregnancy

Urine leakage is a common thing in pregnant women when they sneeze. This happens because the growing uterus rests on top of the bladder, which gets pressed every time a pregnant woman sneezes. This may be embarrassing as well as uncomfortable for most mothers-to-be, and there is very little one can do about it. However, practising Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles may help stop it. One may even use panty liners to avoid embarrassing situations.

How Should You Deal With Sneezing During Pregnancy?

Sneezing during pregnancy or pregnancy rhinitis is troublesome at all times. A pregnant woman suffering from it can get tired and feel drained out on account of continuous sneezing. Therefore, finding ways to combat it is necessary. Listed below are some ways pregnancy rhinitis can be treated:

1. Medical Treatments

Treating sneezing in pregnant women can be quite a task because they cannot take most of the medications they could take before. However, you can seek medical advice on the issue. The doctor may prescribe analgesics or antihistamines, depending on the diagnosis.

Antihistamines are prescribed to cure inflammation and allergies. Analgesics are found in cold medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen and are non-steroidal and used in treating inflammation. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen if taken in early pregnancy, do not cause any complications or risk of congenital disabilities in the baby.

2. Natural Treatments

During pregnancy, it is best to try out natural remedies before taking any kind of allopathic medication. Here is a list of some natural home remedies that you could try to cure sneezing during pregnancy.

  • Inhaling steam can clear the nasal passage.
  • You can also add a drop or two of peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil to get some relief from congestion.
  • Consuming healthy soups and salads with some black pepper can also help get some relief from sneezing. You may also try drinking lukewarm water mixed with one teaspoon of pepper powder 2-3 times a day. Gargling with warm water mixed with pepper powder also helps in controlling sneezing.
  • Ginger is the most sought-after thing in Indian kitchens due to its medicinal properties. Boil some water and add some crushed raw ginger to it. Simmer the concoction for 3 to 5 minutes and let it cool.  Add a spoonful of honey and drink a cup of this medicinal concoction before going to sleep at night. This tea will help stop the sneezing at night.
  • Eating garlic helps in combating infection. You can choose to eat it raw or cook it with other foods. You can also crush some cloves of garlic and smell them. The strong aroma of garlic can help reduce inflammation in the nasal passage.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

Continuous sneezing during pregnancy is quite bothersome, but sneezing should not cause any worry. However, if you have the following symptoms along with sneezing, call for your doctor immediately.

  • You are experiencing respiratory problems and chest pain, as well.
  • You are down with a temperature which is more than 100 degrees.
  • You have a loss of appetite.
  • You are unable to sleep.
  • You are wheezing while speaking or breathing.
  • The colour of the mucus that you are coughing up is either yellow or green.

How to Prevent Sneezing During Pregnancy?

Sneezing during pregnancy or pregnancy rhinitis is common in the first trimester because that is when your body is very low on immunity. It usually causes sharp ligament pain in the second trimester, while it gradually disappears in the third trimester. So, it’s quite normal to experience sneezing during pregnancy. However, there are ways you can prevent it, especially is you suffer from rhinitis/allergies. Here are a few ways you could do that.

  • Use a neti pot to clear the nasal passage. However, this Ayurvedic practice requires time to master.
  • A humidifier can help add moisture to dry air, especially during winter to prevent sneezing.
  • An air purifier is most helpful when people suffer from environmental allergies like dust, pollen or mould.
  • Clear the nasal passage with some saline water. The salt in it can help reduce the inflammation in the nasal passage.
  • Avoid things that may aggravate allergies.
  • Consume Vitamin C rich fruits like kiwi, lime, oranges, strawberries, etc. can help combat cold and cough.
  • Consult a doctor and seek prescribed instructions to cure your allergy/cold.

Sneezing is due to an infection in the upper respiratory tract. It is caused by bacteria or viruses, and usually, there is nothing to be worried about. But, at times, the infection could spread to other parts of the body resulting in severe conditions. Therefore, it should be prevented as much as possible or treated immediately.

Also Read: Home Remedies for Cough during Pregnancy

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