Use of Decongestants During Pregnancy and the Risk of Birth Defects

It is important for pregnant women to be aware of the medications they take and the potential implications it has on the health of their growing baby. Nasal decongestants are drugs that can help reduce nasal swelling and congestion, however, there is some controversy surrounding their safety during pregnancy. In this blog post, we will discuss the potential risks and benefits of nasal decongestants while pregnant, as well as potential alternatives. We will cover a range of topics including the potential side effects, safety precautions, and efficacy of these medications. By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of whether it is safe to take nasal decongestants while pregnant and what the best course of action may be.

What to take for common cold symptoms

A cough suppressant called dextromethorphan is used in over-the-counter medications like Robitussin to lessen coughing. Cough suppressants can come in immediate-release and extended-release preparations. For pregnant women, the maximum dose is 120 mg every 24 hours. Dextromethorphan-containing multisymptom medications frequently have “DM” in their names. Another drug that is frequently present in cough medications, including Mucinex, is guaifenesin. It works as an expectorant to thin mucus in your throat or chest so you can cough it up more easily. It comes in immediate-release or extended-release formulations. You should not take more than 2,400 mg in a 24-hour period. In the past, codeine-containing cold medications were used to suppress coughs. I don’t suggest these to expectant mothers because research indicates that they don’t actually work well, and the less opioid-containing drugs we keep in our medicine cabinets, the better. There is some evidence that honey can reduce nighttime coughing in kids. Certainly, I believe that pregnant women have a choice in this. If you want to try honey, I recommend taking a spoonful of the real stuff instead of a cold medicine that lists honey as a flavoring or ingredient because it’s unclear whether or not it will work as well.

By tightening the blood vessels in your nose, decongestant drugs lessen nasal swelling and sinus pressure. Many pregnant women can safely use the over-the-counter combination of pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine known as Sudafed. However, taking pseudoephedrine without first consulting a doctor is not advised for women with high blood pressure. The medication can cause jitters, racing heartbeats, and blood pressure to rise. Pseudoephedrine is now kept behind the pharmacy counter because it can be used to make methamphetamine. To buy it, you’ll need to show identification, and shops keep tabs on how much you spend. A typical decongestant’s maximum dose is 240 mg every 24 hours.

Sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes

Histamine release, an immune reaction to an invasive virus, causes these symptoms. Pregnancy-safe medications include diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Triaminic Allergy). But because both can make you drowsy, it’s best to take these before bed. The maximum daily dose of chlorpheniramine is 32 mg.

Antihistamines are more effective than placebos within the first couple of days of treatment. Between days three and 10, patients didn’t report any improvement in their symptoms. There is no data on how well newer antihistamines, like loratadine (Claritin), work for cold symptoms because they are approved for allergies rather than colds.

There is a 3,000 mg daily cap on the amount of acetaminophen (Tylenol) that pregnant women can take for a sore throat. If postnasal drip is the cause of your sore throat, an antihistamine may help since it can dry up those secretions. Benzocaine, a local anesthetic, can be found in sprays and lozenges to help numb the throat. Antiseptics with menthol and phenol, like Chloraseptic, also ease throat discomfort. By sucking on hard candy, you can maintain saliva production and potentially lessen throat irritation.

In order to get antibiotics for a cold, so many patients call, usually after experiencing symptoms for a few days. Antibiotics are sometimes necessary, such as in cases of bacterial sinus infections or strep throat. Antibiotics, however, are ineffective against the viruses that cause the common cold. Antibiotic resistance is caused by overprescribing antibiotics for viral illnesses, which makes bacteria more resistant to antibiotic treatment over time. When an antibiotic is recommended by a physician for cold symptoms, the course of treatment is typically only three days long. After stopping the medication, the patient frequently feels better, but without the medication, they would have recovered in that amount of time anyway.

Cold medications that are okay to take during pregnancy

The following medications are generally regarded as safe to use while expecting because they have either been studied or used frequently in pregnant women:

  • Acetaminophin to relieve pain and reduce fevers. Its best to take the minimum effective dose for only as long as you need it, and to never exceed the recommended maximum dosage per day.
  • Antihistamines to relieve nasal congestion. Antihistamines that are considered safe for pregnant women include:
    • Chlorpheniramine
    • Loratadine
    • Cetirizine
    • Dexchlorpheniramine
    • Doxylamine
    • Diphenhydramine (this common medication should only be used during the third trimester when prescribed by your doctor because it may cause uterine contractions)
  • The cough suppressant dextromethorphan is often found in over-the-counter cold medicines like Robitussin and is considered safe for pregnant women.
  • Cough drops with benzocaine or menthol are usually approved for use during pregnancy. Benzocaine doesnt get into the bloodstream, so its very unlikely to pose a risk to a developing baby. Menthol is unlikely to cause problems during pregnancy, as long as its used as recommended.
  • Decongestant corticosteroid nasal sprays are usually considered safe for use over a short period of time. Nasal strips, saline nasal sprays, and Neti pots are the safest options to use during pregnancy, as they dont contain any medications.
  • Decongestant chest rub with camphor oil (such as Vicks) is generally considered safe if used on the skin as directed, though it isnt an effective decongestant. The ingredients in a chest rub might feel nice and make you feel like youre breathing easier, though.
  • FAQ

    What is a safe decongestant to take while pregnant?

    Stuffy nose and sinus pressure

    Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are available over the counter as Sudafed and are safe for many women to use during pregnancy.

    What is the best decongestant while pregnant?

    The American Pharmacists Association’s Handbook of Non-Prescription Drugs recommends using oxymetazoline as the preferred nasal decongestant during pregnancy. Appropriate doses of oxymetazoline can be advised for patients during pregnancy provided that the patient does not have any contraindications to the drug.

    What can I take for cold and congestion while pregnant?

    Pregnancy-Safe Cold & Flu Medication
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Safe during the entire pregnancy. Take only as needed. …
    • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) Safe in the second and third trimester. …
    • Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) Safe during pregnancy. …
    • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) Safe throughout pregnancy.

    How do I unblock my sinuses while pregnant?

    Run a humidifier at night to keep your nasal passage clear and thin mucus. Sleep with more than one pillow to elevate your head. This stops mucus from accumulating in your sinuses at night. Use steam to help loosen the mucus.

    Ideal fluids include:
    1. water.
    2. citrus juices.
    3. decaf teas.
    4. broth.

    How to Relieve Sinus Pressure When Pregnant

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