How to treat cold and flu during pregnancy?

In pregnancy, your body goes through a myriad of changes, both internally, and externally. One of the changes is a reduction in immunity levels. This is very natural as a weaker defense system enables the body to allow the development of a newborn baby (a foreign element) inside it.

However, weaker levels of immunity also make her more susceptible to bacterial, and viral infections that lead to pneumonia, sinus, bronchitis, etc. Due to this reason, pregnant women are found to suffer more from cold and flu than non-pregnant women. So, let us know what you can do to treat cold, and flu in pregnancy.

How do you recognize a cold, or the flu during pregnancy?

A cold is a common type of mild viral infection that impacts the nose, throat, upper airways, and sinuses. Your nose gets blocked followed by sneezing, a runny nose, cough, and a sore throat. There are a few over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol available to treat it.

Flu, on the other hand, is a transmittable viral illness that is spread via sneezes and coughs. Flu is not the same as cold. It is a short form of influenza. A certain different group of viruses is responsible for causing it.

While colds normally get treated in a week with medicines, flu symptoms are more severe and so it takes more time to treat them. Antiviral medicines help in getting rid of it. In absence of effective treatment, it may even lead to birth defects and premature delivery. So, if you are identified with flu, you need to seek your health care provider immediately.

What are the safe, and unsafe medications available for the treatment?

As per health experts, it is generally advised not to consume any medication in the first trimester of pregnancy. This is because it is the time when major organs of the baby are getting developed. It is best to speak with the doctor before you consume any medication for its treatment.

Medicines that are considered safe after the first trimester of pregnancy:

  • Menthol based lotion
  • Nasal strips
  • Cough drops
  • Acetaminophen for fever and body pain
  • Expectorant in daytime
  • Cough suppressant before sleep
  • Calcium-carbonate for nausea, upset stomach, and heartburn
  • Cough syrup
  • Dextromethorphan and dextromethorphan-guaifenesin cough syrups

Unsafe medicines that you should avoid throughout your pregnancy

  • Aspirin
  • Codeine
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Bactrim

Home remedies to treat cold and flu in pregnancy

When you fall ill while pregnant, your first steps should be to:

  • Get a good amount of rest.
  • Drink plenty of water and healthy fluids to keep your body hydrated all the time.
  • Gargle with lukewarm saltwater. This will help in treating a sore throat.

If the problem is not getting solved with the above home remedies, and if the symptoms are becoming severe, then you should try:

  • Saline nasal sprays and drops loosen mucus in the nasal cavity and soothe your swollen nasal tissue
  • Inhale steam to loosen congestion. You can use a facial steamer, a hot shower, or a hot-mist vaporizer to open your blocked nasal passages
  • Sipping warm soup will also help you relieve inflammation and congestion
  • Drinking ginger tea, with honey will also help in reducing soreness in the throat
  • Use hot packs to lessen pain due to sinus

Important things to lower pregnancy risk

Remain updated about the flu vaccination schedule. Flu vaccination helps to lower the possibilities of infection and complications caused by it. It is recommended for pregnant women to get these vaccinations to stay protected for six months.

Best practices to lessen your chances of getting sick:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid coming in contact with friends, and family
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce stress

When should you seek a doctor’s assistance?

In a majority of cases, colds are less harmful in pregnancy, than the flu. If not treated at the right time, it can even lead to premature delivery. Get immediate medical assistance on experiencing the below symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Severe vomiting
  • High fever
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Reduced movement of the fetus

Also read: Which Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy?


During pregnancy, whatever happens to you can have an impact not just on you, but also on your body, and your unborn child. You should not take it lightly as it can be risky for your pregnancy. There are several medicines that are safe to be taken during pregnancy to treat a cold or flu. Get immediate consultation with your doctor to get quick relief from it.