alaska women's health

Treating a Cold During Pregnancy"

Colds during pregnancy

It is practically impossible, particularly during an Alaskan winter, to go nine months without getting a cold. Although there is some concern that viral infections acquired during pregnancy can contribute to fetal deformities, unless the mother has extremely high fevers during the very early periods of pregnancy this is probably an insignificant concern.

Are Over-the-Counter Medications Safe?

Since most of the over-the-counter cold medications have not been tested for causing birth defects in fetuses, none of them, except Tylenol, can be recommended without hesitation. For this reason, we prefer that pregnant women, unless they have an illness severe enough for hospitalization, stick to increasing fluids, using steam to clear their passage ways, using a humidifier, and taking Tylenol as necessary to get over a cold. Rest is extremely important. If a head cold is so severe that a woman can’t sleep, she can take Actifed without any particular concern of causing problems for her pregnancy.

Pregnant women should avoid taking aspirin or ibuprofen.

If a woman develops a cough, a fever, produces a lot of phlegm, or has chest pain, she should go to the emergency room or her doctor’s office immediately to rule out pneumonia. However, if these symptoms are not present and the patient is simply plagued by a cough that keeps her from sleeping, she can take cough syrup (preferably Robitussin DM) without concern of harming the fetus. All sore throat lozenges/cough drops are also okay.

There are some important things to remember when you get a cold during pregnancy; everybody has this happen during their pregnancy. It does not seem to increase the risk of having problems during pregnancy. Also, if possible, the therapy for a cold should be limited to bed rest, increased fluids, steam, a humidifier, and/or Tylenol. If necessary cough medicine may be used. Antibiotics are not necessary during every cold, sore throat, or cough, but if you are having these symptoms, a throat culture in the doctor’s office is a good idea.

Cold Remedies in Pregnancy

Non-medication remedies
  • Humidifier
  • Increased rest
  • Increased oral fluids
  • Vitamin C
  • Cold compress to sinuses
  • Steam/hot shower
  • Chicken Soup

Over-the-Counter medications
  • Tylenol
  • Mucinex
  • Robitussin DM
  • Saline nasal spray
  • Salt water gargles

When to Call Your Doctor’s Office

  • Fever over 101
  • Coughing up green phlegm
  • Symptoms lasting more than 7 days