Pregnancy is an important milestone in a woman's life because it is the stage of her life when she gives birth to a new human being. However, pregnancy can also increase a woman's risk for acquiring diseases. Due to the load that she has to take care of, she is often susceptible to infections, one of which are colds and flu.
Pregnancy and Colds
Colds and flu are so common that almost every one of us have experienced bouts of it in our lifetimes. Colds are respiratory tract infections caused by influenza viruses. There are more than 200 viruses that cause common colds, and they are constantly mutating.
A pregnant woman is susceptible to infections such as colds and flu because during pregnancy the body minimizes the actions of the immune system to fight off foreign bodies so that it will not fight off the baby as a foreign body. This is termed as natural immunosuppression. The result is a greater susceptibility to diseases particularly infections such as colds. After infection, a pregnant woman develops symptoms such as body malaise, runny nose, aches, pains, cough, sore throat, fever and chills. These symptoms annoy the sufferer and prevent him or her from doing daytime work. In pregnant women, this is especially dangerous since it may cause complications not only to the pregnant woman but also to the baby.
A recent study has shown that women who are pregnant and who contact colds and viral infections during the course of their pregnancy have greater risks of bearing children who may have asthma later on. The results of this study are published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. According to the researchers, this was because bacterial exposure and infections contacted by a mother during pregnancy can affect the environment of the fetus inside the uterus, thus making the baby develop asthma and allergies later on. Additional risks of acquiring asthma and allergies later on in life include early exposure to allergens such as animal fur and house dust. The authors commented that asthma and allergies can manifest in a child as early as five years old. The study involved more than 500 pregnant women from Germany and studied their children as well. The respondents were made to answer questionnaires during their pregnancy and later on when their children where between the ages of three to 12 months of age and every year up to five years old.
This study only suggests that we should better take care of our health when we are pregnant. Colds may go out on their own after 5 to 7 days but the pregnant woman has to take extra care of herself.
What To Do
The pregnant woman should take plenty of rest, drink enough water and other fluids such as fruit juices, and taking prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins can offer the pregnant woman protection against these diseases, especially if they contain vitamin C and zinc that can fight off infections. Aside from prenatal vitamins, she should aim to eat foods rich in nutrients such as citrus fruits, mangoes, papaya, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, kiwi, melon, strawberries, broccoli and other fruits and vegetables. Zinc rich foods can also protect women from infections such as beef, pork, oysters, oatmeal, turkey, yogurt and wheat germ.
If you are pregnant and have a cold, you can opt for natural remedies and not resort to cold medications. There are many spices that have anti-viral activities such as garlic, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. You can also consider using a humidifier to keep moist air around you. Throat pain with sore throat can be relieved by saltwater gargles so that you can be free from nasal congestion and sinus headaches. You can also use saline sprays to moisten the upper respiratory tract.
For more tips on how to deal with colds, you can read our other articles on this site.