Safely Treating Sinus Congestion While Pregnant
These five tips for treating sinus congestion while pregnant can help you get over your stuffy nose without using medication that might pose a risk to baby.
1. Avoid Allergens and Pollutants
Avoid unnecessary exposure to nasal allergens and pollutants, such as smog and cigarette smoke.
2. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Drinking even more water than usual each day is very effective in treating sinus congestion while pregnant.
3. Keep Your Nasal Passages Clear
Flush your nasal passages with saltwater nose drops several times a day. These are available without a prescription, or you can make your own. To make your own saltwater drops, use a quarter teaspoon of salt to a cup of water.
4. Use a Facial Steamer for Treating Sinus Congestion
Clear sinus congestion while pregnant with a simple facial steamer. A facial steamer is a hot mist vaporizer. A facial steamer “steam cleans” your nasal passageways.
5. Consider Nasal Sprays (Decongestants, Antihistamines)
Medicines that constrict the nose’s blood vessels may enter the bloodstream and constrict the uterus or placenta blood vessels. Therefore, decongestants should be used only under a doctor’s supervision and only in the dosage and frequency your doctor recommends. (Women with decreased placental circulation should be cautious about taking any form of inhaled or oral decongestants.)
Some nasal sprays are safer than others. Except for saltwater (or saline) nasal spray, consult your doctor before taking nasal sprays.
- Afrin (oxymetazoline), when used only twice a day and for a couple of days, hasn’t been shown to cause harmful effects on the developing baby.
Inhaled Nasal Steroids
- Inhaled nasal steroids (e.g., Vancenase and Beconase) are in the “probably safe” category for treating sinus congestion while pregnant. However, only when taken a couple of times a day and for a short period of time. Best to stick with the lower potency inhaled steroids unless advised by your doctor.
- Cromolyn (Intal) is safe to take during pregnancy. It’s not a decongestant, a steroid, or antihistamine. Cromolyn is a medication that lessens nasal congestion due to allergies when taken over a long period of time. It is beneficial during seasonal allergic rhinitis or hayfever. It’s not helpful during an acute attack of a stuffy nose.
Nasal or Oral Decongestants
- Nasal or oral decongestants that contain the following compounds are possibly harmful to the developing baby. They shouldn’t be taken to clear sinus congestion while pregnant. Consult with your doctor. These decongestants include ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, Neo-synephrine, phenylephrine. These decongestants constrict the vessels in the airway passages. Therefore, they may also constrict the blood vessels delivering blood to the baby.
- Antihistamines. Chlorpheniramine and tripelennamine are categorized as safe to use for sinus congestion while pregnant. (green light). Others are recommended only with reservation (yellow light). Yellow light antihistamines include those containing brompheniramine, diphenhydramine, terfenadine, and clemastine. These have been implicated in causing eye damage in premature infants if taken in the last two weeks of pregnancy. However, this is a rare finding.
- If you have been taking allergy shots before becoming pregnant, your doctor may advise continuing these shots during pregnancy. However, reactivity to these injections may change during pregnancy. Your doctor may elect to change the dosage. It is unlikely that your doctor would advise starting allergy shots during pregnancy.
- While pregnant, cough syrups should be taken with caution. It’s best to limit to nighttime-use or severe coughs. Available studies have shown no link between guaifenesin and fetal defects.
For more information on medication safe during pregnancy, see The Healthy Pregnancy Book: Month by Month, Everything You Need to Know from America’s Baby Experts