Flu While Pregnant: Symptoms, Treatment, and Possible Complications

flu while pregnant. a sick woman blowing her nose

Everyone is familiar with the influenza virus. According to statistics, each of us is sick with catarrhal diseases for at least 6 years in our life. According to the doctors, ARVI and influenza (flu) are the most common diseases worldwide. In the epidemic season more than 40% of children and adults face these diseases. What’s more, we are so used to them that we stop taking the diseases seriously. Only the alarming news reports make us think about their seriousness. Such carelessness can have a harmful effect on health, especially if it concerns flu while pregnant.

A Little More About Flu

The main thing is to remember that the flu does not arise by itself. You cannot get sick if you just soak your feet. Influenza is a virus. It spreads by airborne transmission. Therefore, the source of the infection is a sick person.

A person, once ill with the flu, can get sick again and again, because he does not develop stable immunity. Unlike other infectious diseases, the influenza virus is constantly subjected to genetic changes. As a result, new pathogens appear. Therefore, the most dangerous influenza is type A virus. This is the type that causes seasonal epidemics and global pandemics. The influenza B virus is characterized by much less variability, while in influenza C it is generally absent.

In the third trimester of pregnancy the likelihood of getting infected dramatically increases. During this period a woman’s body is most susceptible to any infections. And in many cases the disease is very difficult and is accompanied by serious complications. The work of the immune and endocrine systems becomes violated. There are relapses of chronic diseases. The incubation period ranges from several hours to several days.

Symptoms of Flu while Pregnant

Flu is characterized by high fever in combination with chills, aching joints and photophobia. Sometimes there is nausea and vomiting. All this is evidence of intoxication of the body. On the second-third day, a dry cough, a runny nose, a sore throat are added to the number of ailments. With the flu, the body temperature is usually high enough, up to 40 degrees. With its periodic fall, the patient sweats heavily. This condition can last up to seven days. What’s more, herpes on the lips can appear.

flu while pregnant. sick woman on the sofa

Viral disease in some pregnant women is accompanied by abdominal pain and even diarrhea. As with an ordinary person, in pregnant women after the flu there is asthenia syndrome – fatigue, general weakness and malaise. What’s more, pregnant women have other difficulties, for example, emotional disturbances. Because of flu while pregnant a woman can have both mild depression and serious behavioral disorders. The future mother becomes more irritable, she is disturbed by noise in her ears and dizziness, she does not tolerate bright light, loud talk, working TV, etc.

Features of Treatment of Flu while Pregnant

It is natural that the flu must be treated only by a doctor. Treatment of influenza in pregnant women has distinctive features, because the majority of drugs is contraindicated. So, how to treat flu while pregnant?

In the first trimester of pregnancy, symptomatic treatment is performed. This means that each symptom of the disease is treated separately. For example, high temperature (above 38.5 – 39 ° C) can be treated by ibuprofen or paracetamol. For treating cough in this period, the herbal preparations and antitussives approved during pregnancy will be suitable. Warm drinks and bed rest will help coping with the flu while pregnant as well. Antibacterial therapy for influenza is not relevant, since this disease is caused by a virus.

flu while pregnant. sick pregnant woman

In the second and third trimester of pregnancy, symptomatic therapy is also carried out with the addition of interferons (other antiviral drugs are prohibited during pregnancy). Antibiotics are prescribed only in case of complications (for example, bacterial infection).

If necessary, doctors carry out the treatment of the abortion threat and placental insufficiency.

How to Treat the Flu during Pregnancy?

If you didn’t manage to avoid influenza, then you should start the treatment immediately.

First, if you are pregnant, immediately call a doctor who will examine you and prescribe the correct and safe treatment for flu-related illness during pregnancy.

flu while pregnant. pregnant woman visiting a doctor

Secondly, high temperature in the first 3-4 days must be sent down. But keep in mind, that only a doctor can appoint the medicine for this.

Drugs during pregnancy should be taken with extreme caution. Do not self-medicate! Take only prescribed by the doctor medications.

Recommendations for Treating Flu while Pregnant:

  • Immediately buy the medicine that the doctor prescribed, and immediately begin taking them.
  • Rest in bed
  • Drink liquids: water, tea, natural juices
  • Pay special attention to food. It should be light and nutritious with a high content of vitamins.
  • Air your room often. You can even sleep with an open window, if it’s not very cold.
  • Wet cleaning several times a day will also be very useful. You may ask your husband or a relative to help you with that.

Be Careful with Medications during Pregnancy

  • Take medicines only after consulting a doctor.
  • If your doctor has prescribed a medicine for you, then before taking the  drug, be sure to ask about possible undesirable consequences for the fetus. Do not hesitate to ask such questions!

flu while pregnant. pregnant woman holding pills

  • Do not use unknown or little-known medicines yourself. Absolutely not necessarily a drug recommended by the media as the best and fastest way to get rid of all signs of the disease will allow you to achieve a cure. It is best to consult a doctor who can provide you with qualified help.
  • Be careful when reading the instructions to the drug (this is an information leaflet that lies in the package of the drug). It can contain information about whether it is allowed to take this drug during pregnancy.

Complications of Gestation

It is obvious that any woman who has suffered the flu during pregnancy will worry about possible complications.

The greatest risk influenza poses in the first trimester of pregnancy. During this period, there is a high risk of fetal malformations (10%). Sometimes women who already have children are offered to interrupt pregnancy in the early stages.

An acute infectious process that occurs in the body has a direct toxic effect on the fetus up to a mortal one. In this case, the probability of spontaneous abortion increases to 25-50%.

In the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy intrauterine infection of the fetus can occur. What’s more, there is a threat of placental insufficiency, retardation and chronic fetal hypoxia, as well as a threat of premature birth.

Flu while Pregnant: Possible Consequences

Flu while pregnant is dangerous with complications that can affect any body organs and systems. Here are just a few of them:

  • Respiratory system: bronchitis, tracheobronchitis, sinusitis, adenoiditis, tonsillitis, otitis;
  • Cardiovascular system: inflammation of the muscles and membranes of the heart, heart failure;
  • Reproductive system: hormonal failures, miscarriages, premature birth, lack of blood supply in the placenta, intrauterine growth retardation;
  • Because of flu while pregnant, chronic diseases of the digestive tract, genitourinary and endocrine system, cardiovascular diseases and allergic reactions often aggravate.

How Does the Flu while Pregnant Affect the Future Baby?

The flu while pregnant is especially dangerous for a child if the disease falls on the period of 12 weeks of pregnancy. During this period the formation of internal organs in the future child takes place. Infection with the flu during this period of pregnancy is fraught with congenital malformations and violations of the formation of the central nervous system in the fetus. The worst is that it can even lead to death of the baby.

flu while pregnant. pregnant woman in the bed

The second and third trimester for the baby are less dangerous (at the same time, the flu in the 3rd trimester is dangerous for the mother). But even during these periods, influenza can cause very serious disorders, such as fetal hypoxia, fetal development retardation syndrome, and developmental disorders of the respiratory system. Also, flu while pregnant is dangerous with severe blood loss.

Prevention of Flu while Pregnant

It is known that many diseases are easier to prevent than cure. During the epidemic of ARI, and any other disease, try to take all possible measures to reduce the risk of getting sick. This especially applies to the first three months of pregnancy. For example, limit trips in public transport in the cold season (since the greatest chance of infection occurs precisely in places of large concentrations of people).

To increase the resistance of the body, and consequently, reduce the susceptibility to viral infections, the use of multivitamin complexes for pregnant women is recommended.

If someone of your family gets sick with the flu, try to limit contact with him/her and put on a special mask. Change it every 2 hours. Carefully observe personal hygiene measures.

Proper diet, rich in vitamins, will strengthen the immune system, which simply will not allow the virus to enter the body. In addition, the menu during pregnancy should be balanced. It is necessary to take additional multivitamins for pregnant women, which can be prescribed by your gynecologist.

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