Influenza virus infection, more commonly known as flu, is a condition which affects a person through specific symptoms, resembling those of a common cold, but being more severe. Therefore, if a person suffers from flu, he/she is best to seek timely medical treatment, managing to overcome this condition timely. However, if flu appears during pregnancy, the treatment may not be an easy task due to the fact that it is not safe for pregnant women to take many types of medications, since the side effect may be harmful to the child they are carrying.
Pregnancy Should be without Flu
Flu usually appears during seasonal changes – in the fall and in the winter. However, every year, new, mutated types of this virus appear and affect people in ways that have never been seen nor treated before, posing a potential danger because of the unknown symptoms.
The main symptoms of flu are muscle and joint pain, most commonly appearing in the limbs and in the back, headaches, fever and sweating, lethargy and tiredness, sore throat and sneezing, along with nasal congestion and a general loss of appetite.
Once these symptoms strike a person, he/she usually cannot overcome flu for about a week. In fact, many people find it impossible to leave the bed, once they suffer from this condition.
However, as far as pregnancy is concerned, it usually results in a jeopardized immune system of the future mother, making her more susceptible to illnesses, especially those like the common cold, flu or problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Due to the same fact, the symptoms pregnant women endure during illnesses are more severe and remain present for longer period of time. Therefore, a simple flu infection can easily evolve into a more serious condition such as pneumonia, potentially being a deadly illness.
Pregnant women usually suffer from nasal congestion, due to the changes that affect their bodies. This state of affairs results in a build-up of mucus. So, once flu strikes as well, the nasal congestion becomes even worse. Unfortunately, nasal decongestants, which are usually the choice for people who suffer from this problem, are potentially dangerous for pregnant women and should be avoided. Therefore, a relief from this situation is hardly possible, even though there has been no research studies conducted proving that nasal decongestants are hazardous for pregnant women.
Yet, bearing in mind that such medications contain chemicals which can cause drowsiness, potentially transferring this effect onto the fetus through the placenta, they are not recommended.
Therefore, pregnant women are advised to opt for some alternative methods of dealing with nasal congestion. Steam exposure is one of the safest and best choices, along with hot compresses held on the nasal area, making the mucus softer and easier to expel.
However, the problems do not end here, when it comes to suffering from flu during pregnancy. Namely, flu brings about fever and pain. In order for you to get rid of these symptoms, you are advised to consult your doctor since, in some cases, using paracetamol and acetaminophen can be safe for you.
Most health experts agree that prevention is better than any possible cure, suggesting that women, before they become pregnant, should get vaccinated against flu.
Flu in Early and Late Pregnancy
As the lines above suggest, flu is a condition which should not be taken lightly during pregnancy. Rather, pregnant women should do their best to prevent this virus from affecting them, especially women who are already affected by certain health problems such as asthma.
Moreover, miscarriage can be connected to flu, even though such occurrences can only be related to more severe types of this condition.
Even during early stages of your pregnancy, you are advised to stay away from all friends, family members and other people who are infected with flu, showing the symptoms. This disease is transferable through the air, among other mediums and you should keep yourself and your baby properly protected.
On the other hand, women in their late pregnancy are commonly encouraged to take the flu vaccine. Yet, in the vast majority of cases, women refuse to undergo vaccination because, in the past, this process was associated with autism in the newborns. Nevertheless, most health experts recommend vaccination in the second and third trimester, saying that this is the best possible step towards protecting oneself.
A study carried out in 1998 discovered that women who suffered from flu during pregnancy were more likely to end up in hospitals than other women, potentially risking suffering from severe medical conditions.
Basically, the later the flu appears during your pregnancy, the worse the symptoms can get, due to your compromised immune system. While medications may not be a good option, potentially harming the fetus, most pregnant women, especially those in later stages of their pregnancy are recommended to get vaccinated against this potentially life-threatening viral infection.