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FLU AND PREGNANCY

Dr. Omar Ahmed, Ob/Gyn, GP.

During the course of your pregnancy, it is possible that you may catch a cold or flu virus. Because your immune system is affected during pregnancy and in Beijing, specifically, in this time of the year flu infection and common cold is very common.

While catching the flu during pregnancy rarely causes birth defects, pregnancy can increase your risk for flu complications such as pneumonia. The best way to have a healthy pregnancy is to try to prevent the flu altogether.

Studies show that viral illness like the flu and colds usually last three times longer in pregnant women.

What is theBest Wayto Prevent the Flu During Pregnancy?

Most experts believe that the flu vaccine will provide protection against the flu for pregnant women and possibly their infants as well.

Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but getting vaccinated in December is still wise.

To prevent exposure to flu during pregnancy:

- Wash your hands often.

- Avoid crowds.

- Avoid contact with people who have a cold.

- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when you touch a contaminated surface and then touch
   your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Is the Flu Shot Dangerous During Pregnancy?

The flu shot does not contain the live virus and cannot give you the flu. Some women do have fatigue and muscle aches due to their immune system responding to the vaccine. In addition, the flu shot is also safe while breastfeeding. It cannot cause you or your nursing baby to get sick. The shot takes about two weeks to work.The nasal flu vaccine“FluMist”should not be used in pregnant women,because it has not been tested in pregnant women.

Is the Flu Shot Safe For Children?

The answer is yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu (influenza) vaccine for all children ages 6 months through 18 years — ideally given in September or as soon as the vaccine is available.

The flu vaccine is available for children in two forms:

A shot. Flu shots can be given to children age 6 months and older. From 6 months to 3 years old the child will receive 2 shots (1/2 dose+1/2 dose) with one month interval.3 years and older receive one dose (one single shot annually).

A nasal spray. The nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) can be given to children age 2 years and older.

How Should I Treat Cold or Flu Symptoms During Pregnancy?

Many flu and cold medications have not been well studied in pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have the flu, call your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or prescription drug.
 Treatments for cold and flu symptoms that your doctor may suggest during pregnancy include:

- Acetaminophen,the preferred treatment for fever, aches and pains of flu and colds during pregnancy

- Saline nasal spray or nasal irrigation. Sea water nasal spry is helpful for stuffy runny nose.

- Pseudoephedrine, the decongestant may be helpful for some people. Avoid pseudoephedrine in the first trimester or if you
  have hypertension. 

- Traditional Chinese Herbal cough syrupNinJiom Pei Pa Kaois good and safe medication for coughing and sore throat
   during pregnancy

Pregnant women with flu are at greater risk of serious illness and death from flu. So it is recommended to use Tamiflu (oseltamivir) in pregnant women with suspected or test-proven flu.

If you are less than 12 weeks pregnant, or more than 38 weeks, It is preferred that you usenomedication unless recommended by your physician.

What Are SomeNatural Waysto Treat Flu Symptoms During Pregnancy?

Try these four natural flu treatments during pregnancy:

- Use sugar or honey-based lozenges to relieve sore throats and cough.

- Get plenty of bed rest.

- Drink more fluids, such as water, juice, and caffeine-free tea.

- Put an air humidifier in your room to provide extra moisture, which can help reduce congestion.

When you catch the flu with nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, it is important to maintain your nutritional intake. A liquid diet is the best way to do this, as liquids enable the bowel and/or stomach to rest. A clear liquid diet consists of juices, pop, water, Jello, ice chips, broth, and Popsicles.

Once you have tolerated clear liquids, a very nutritious shake can be made in a blender with ice cream or milk and fruit of your choice. Dry carbohydrates, such as toast or crackers, may be helpful once your appetite begins to return. If there is no improvement in your symptoms after 24 hours, you should call your health care professional.

In addition, call your doctor if:  

- you have trouble breathing

- your symptoms don't improve or get worse after three to four days

- after feeling a little better, you develop signs of a more serious problem

Some signs of a more serious problem are a sick-to-your-stomach feeling, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.