Pregnancy rhinitis: Why you might have a stuffy nose in pregnancy

Stuffy noses are an annoying and uncomfortable symptom of many minor illnesses, but could a stuffy nose also be a sign of pregnancy? A stuffy nose can range from mild congestion to a complete blockage, and many pregnant women experience this symptom during their pregnancy journey. While a stuffy nose is often associated with the common cold, it can also be a symptom of pregnancy. In this blog post, we will explore the possibility of a stuffy nose being an indicator of pregnancy and look at ways to find relief from the discomfort. We will also discuss the importance of talking to a doctor to confirm a positive pregnancy test and to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Is it pregnancy rhinitis or something else?

If your only symptoms are congestion and possibly a runny nose, you most likely have pregnancy rhinitis. Other symptoms may indicate another condition, such as:

  • Allergic rhinitis. If allergies are the cause for your stuffy nose during pregnancy, youll almost always also experience sneezing and/or itchiness in the eyes, nose, or throat. Keep in mind that preexisting allergies are unpredictable during pregnancy and may improve or get worse. You may also experience allergies for the first time during pregnancy.
  • Cold or flu. If you have a stuffy nose as well as sneezing, coughing, a sore throat, mild aches and pains, swollen glands, muscle or body aches, or a fever, its more likely you have a cold or the flu than pregnancy rhinitis.
  • Sinusitis. Viral and bacterial infections that cause a stuffy nose can lead to sinusitis, i.e. a sinus infection. With sinusitis, youll usually experience other symptoms beyond stuffiness including fever, headache, green or yellow mucus, facial pain or pressure (which may feel worse when you bend forward), an ache in the upper jaw, or a reduced sense of smell.
  • COVID-19. Although COVID-19 can cause pregnancy congestion, youre more likely to have a fever, cough, and fatigue. That said, some research suggests that pregnant women may actually be less likely to experience COVID-19 symptoms, even though theyre at greater risk of severe COVID-19 complications. Bottom line: While its not likely that you have COVID-19 if youre just experiencing congestion, it can be hard to tell the virus apart from other conditions – so if youre concerned, get tested.
  • Of course, it won’t always be possible to determine what is causing your congestion while pregnant, and it’s possible that there are multiple causes. For example, you could have allergies and pregnancy rhinitis.

    Pregnancy rhinitis: Treatment options for a stuffy nose

    Nasal congestion during pregnancy can cause headaches, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating, all of which can make you feel awful. Fortunately, there are numerous natural remedies for pregnancy rhinitis relief, such as exercise and sleeping with your head elevated.

    Congestion during pregnancy is typically just another bothersome pregnancy symptom for women. But sometimes, it warrants extra attention. If pregnancy rhinitis consistently keeps you from sleeping, especially if you or your partner notices that you snore, consult your doctor. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan because snoring (and sleep apnea, in particular) have been linked to pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction. They might suggest a brief course of medication for severe cases of congestion during pregnancy.

    A note about sex and gender

    Sex and gender exist on spectrums. The terms “male,” “female,” or both will be used in this article to refer to sex that is assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

    These may occur within 2 weeks of conception. The amount of breast tissue increases in preparation for milk production. The veins of the breasts become more noticeable, and the nipples may darken. The breasts and nipples may feel tingly, sore, and extra sensitive.

    This often begins early in pregnancy, and it results from various changes, including:

  • the uterus expanding
  • hormonal changes
  • an increase in blood volume
  • an increase in blood circulation to the pelvis
  • an increase in kidney size
  • Even more frequent and urgent urination may occur later in the pregnancy as a result of the growing fetus and uterus placing pressure on the bladder.

    If urination becomes painful, seek medical attention right away because a urinary tract infection may be to blame.

    Fatigue is one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms. It may be most intense in the first 12 weeks.

    During pregnancy, the body produces more of the hormone progesterone. This is essential for a healthy pregnancy, but it may also contribute to fatigue.

    Additionally, as the fetus grows, the body needs to pump more blood to it. This can result in more fatigue due to the increased physical demands in the later stages of pregnancy.

    In the first trimester, mild cramping without bleeding is typical and can resemble menstrual cramps. It results from the uterus expanding.

    Heartburn, abdominal bloating, and constipation also frequently start early in pregnancy and can last the entire time of the pregnancy.

    Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause a stuffy nose. While this can occur early in pregnancy, it is more common in the third trimester.

    These are common throughout pregnancy, and they may result from hormonal and physical changes, rather than shifting nutritional requirements.

    It is still unknown what causes food cravings and aversions in the first place. Different people seek out and avoid different foods.

    In any case, it’s critical to consume enough calories and nutrients.

    Early in pregnancy, hormonal changes, fatigue, and stress can all cause sudden mood swings. It is common to experience heightened emotional sensitivity and sudden mood swings while pregnant.

    Relapses of preexisting mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can also be brought on by pregnancy.

    This can result from a range of factors, including:

  • changes in hormones
  • changes in blood pressure and volume
  • altered balance due to weight changes
  • iron deficiency anemia and other health issues
  • When someone quickly changes positions, like standing up, they may feel dizzy more. While some dizziness may be expected, if it persists after rising from a chair or lying down, a person should seek medical attention.

    These are common in early pregnancy and can result from changes in hormones. Typically, headaches cause no harm to the fetus. However, headaches can be a symptom of preeclampsia, which can lead to serious complications without treatment. Anyone who experiences strong headaches, especially with changes in vision, should contact their doctor.

    Bleeding may be common during early pregnancy. While it may be harmless, a doctor should investigate the cause.Implantation bleeding occurs when the embryo attaches to the wall of the uterus. This can cause light bleeding or spotting. It may happen around the time when the person would have expected a period.

    Early pregnancy symptoms are common and can result from a variety of medical conditions. Because of this, it’s crucial that a medical professional determine the cause as soon as possible.

    Pregnancy tests check for the presence of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). A person might take an over-the-counter test at home, or they might visit a clinic and provide a urine or blood sample for testing.

    The body produces hCG after implantation. A few uncommon ailments and conditions can also cause this hormone’s levels to increase. Anyone who has received a positive test result would be wise to have this verified by a medical professional.

    Using sound waves, an ultrasound scan creates an image of the fetus.

    Doctors typically use these scans to check the progress of a known pregnancy, but they can also confirm whether a person is pregnant and help detect multiple pregnancies.

    If a person has any pregnancy symptoms, they should contact a healthcare professional. Once the pregnancy is confirmed, having consistent prenatal care improves outcomes for the pregnant person and the fetus.

    Missed periods, breast changes, fatigue, abrupt mood swings, and frequent urination are just a few of the early warning signs of pregnancy.

    A person may use a home pregnancy test or seek medical attention if they experience any pregnancy symptoms. If a patient receives a positive result at home, they should have their physician confirm it. The physician will then create a plan for prenatal care.

    Last medically reviewed on August 11, 2021


    Can early pregnancy feel like a cold?

    It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to experience cold- or flu-like symptoms early in pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about pregnancy-safe treatment options. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to severe illnesses from the flu. This can lead to serious health problems for your baby.

    How early does pregnancy rhinitis start?

    When does pregnancy rhinitis start? Although pregnancy rhinitis may start at any time during pregnancy, it most commonly affects pregnant individuals in the first trimester, or first three months of pregnancy, and again in late pregnancy.

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