Getting sick while you are pregnant isn’t fair! Colds can be especially bothersome if your sinuses are already feeling stuffy from the extra blood flow you now have. You mentioned both antihistamines and decongestants. Let me differentiate them. An antihistamine relieves the itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and other symptoms of environmental allergies such as hay fever. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is an example of an antihistamine. A decongestant relieves the stuffy nose and ear congestion frequently caused by a common-cold virus or sinus inflammation (sinusitis). A typical decongestant is pseudoephedrine, which comes under a variety of brand names. Pseudoephedrine is considered safe for use during pregnancy. Until recently, this drug was readily available on grocery and drugstore shelves.
Currently, pseudoephedrine products are kept out of reach of shoppers and available only on request. This is because pseudoephedrine is used in the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine. Although no prescription is necessary in most states, you will have to show your driver’s license or other personal identification to buy the drug. Some cold medication manufacturers have replaced pseudoephedrine with phenylephrine, but many people feel that the replacement does not work as well. Nor has the use of phenylephrine during pregnancy been as well studied as that of pseudoephedrine.
Please talk to your doctor or midwife before taking any of these medications. If you are having aches or a fever, your practitioner may suggest that you take acetaminophen instead. In any case, you should rest as much as possible.
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Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.
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