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How to Cope With Infections When You’re Pregnant

by R. Carnavale | January 5th, 2015 | Pregnancy

sneeze (400x400)Despite your best efforts to stay healthy when you’re pregnant, you may come down with an infection of some sort — a cold, a respiratory flu, hay fever, chickenpox, or bladder infections. The key thing to remember is most infections will not harm your baby, so focus on getting better for your own health’s sake.

If you feel like you constantly need to urinate or you are experiencing pain when you urinate, you may have a bladder infection, which your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for. You’ll want to seek treatment early on because an untreated bladder infection can spread to your kidneys, causing constant pain. If you have a kidney infection, your doctor may admit you to the hospital for a course of intravenous antibiotics and she may prescribe antibiotics for the duration of your pregnancy because kidney infections tend to recur.

If you find yourself sick with a cold or the flu, know that it is OK to take over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants, Tylenol, Sudafed, nasal sprays (on a short-term basis) and antihistamines as long as you adhere to the recommended doses and you consult with your doctor. Colds and the flu will tend to cause dehydration, especially when you’re pregnant, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Coffee, tea, soda and other caffeinated drinks are fine in small quantities but can cause dehydration if you drink them often. Milk is to be avoided because it often causes nausea in pregnant women. Finally, this is the time to eat comfort food like chicken soup. If your cold or flu symptoms persist for more than a few days, be sure to contact your doctor for further treatment.

If you develop hay fever, know that the older generation antihistamines like Sinutab and nasal sprays (used sparingly and again with approval from your doctor)  have been OK’d by most doctors and the effects of newer medicines, like Claritin, are still being researched.

If you’ve been exposed to someone with chickenpox, visit your doctor right away (as in, within three days). Your doctor will, most likely, give you a VZIG (varicella zoster immune globulin) injection so that you and your baby will be less likely to get the disease. If you experience flu-like symptoms and a rash, and you’ve never had chickenpox or the vaccine, you may have chickenpox (you may recall Angelina Jolie’s recent episode of the disease). If you develop shortness of breath because of your illness, contact your doctor right away. If you are early on in your pregnancy (the first four months), you’ll definitely want to contact your doctor because the illness can spread to your baby and cause congenital varicella syndrome, which can leave your baby with chickenpox scars on its skin, abnormal limb development, growth problems and developmental delays. If you are exposed to the chickenpox within five days before or after birth, see your physician because your baby is at risk for developing a serious case of chickenpox and, more than likely, your baby will be given a VZIG injection to prevent his or her from getting the disease.

Note: Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any over the counter medications while pregnant.

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