A cold or an allergy? You might actually have rhinitis – let’s look at the symptoms, the causes, the treatment, and under what circumstances you should go to the hospital.
What is pregnancy rhinitis and its symptoms
Pregnancy rhinitis, simply put, is a flu that happens during pregnancy. The symptoms are the same as a common cold, but what’s different about rhinitis is that expecting moms who have had no symptoms suddenly come down with a flu that can last throughout pregnancy until about 2 weeks after the delivery.
The following are symptoms of rhinitis during pregnancy (and also, non-pregnancy periods):
- A stuffy/itchy/runny nose
- Itching in the throat, nose
- Itchy/watery/swollen eyes
If you have a stuffy nose or are sneezing all of a sudden during pregnancy and this drags on for weeks or even months, it’s highly likely you’re having pregnancy rhinitis.
Causes of pregnancy rhinitis
When you’re pregnant, the level of estrogen present in your body increases and the mucous membranes in your nose become inflamed and filled with more blood. This makes it more difficult for you to breathe. Although rhinitis usually refers to an allergic reaction, pregnancy rhinitis is temporal and it doesn’t mean that you have a permanent allergy.
Women who have chronic sinus or other breathing problems might see these symptoms become worse during pregnancy. Symptoms of rhinitis can start appearing in the early stages of pregnancy or can even last for a few weeks after pregnancy ends. If you suspect that you have a case of pregnancy rhinitis, monitor the changes in your body carefully.
How to fight pregnancy rhinitis?
Antihistamine nasal sprays or antihistamines combined with decongestants aren’t safe for use in the first trimester of pregnancy, so avoid using them. The types of medicine you can take or use in the last trimester of pregnancy will increase, and if you don’t have seasonal or perennial rhinitis before pregnancy, then it’s likely your pregnancy rhinitis will improve after you deliver.
The following are alternative methods you can consider using in your fight against rhinitis during pregnancy.
Avoid allergens in the air
Try to avoid allergens in the air. Even if you can’t always spot their presence, what you can do is to keep your house spick and span and free of dust as much as possible. When flowers are in bloom, stay indoors as much as you can, keep your windows shut and wear a mask when you go out. Wash your face and hand when you’re back home, use mouthwash to clean your mouth and blow your nose.
Keep your nose warm
Lie down and place a warm towel on the bridge of your nose and sit in a tub of warm water for some time. Use facial steamers or a humidifier to make your room less dry.
Laser therapy is a quick surgical method that can help alleviate the symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis. However, it’s recommended that you don’t undergo any unnecessary surgery while pregnant.
When should I go to the hospital if I have pregnancy rhinitis?
If your pregnancy rhinitis drags on for a few weeks, or if you’re experiencing insomnia or your sleep is affected by pregnancy rhinitis, it might just be time for you to go to the hospital. Consult your OB-GYN or the otolaryngologist before taking any medicine. If you accidentally took medicine that shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy, note the name of the medicine, the date, the amount you took, and let your OB-GYN know.
Letting the body heal itself
Pregnancy rhinitis doesn’t do your fetus any harm, so there is no need to be too worried about your baby being harmed by your continued rhinitis. You might be hoping that your rhinitis ends immediately the moment your baby pops out, but that might not necessarily be the case. It could take a few weeks before your hormone levels return to normal. In the meantime, breathe easy!