Some of us breeze through pregnancy without any issues while others are textbook; we have every symptom known to occur during pregnancy. One little discussed condition that affects some pregnant women is pregnancy rhinitis or rhinitis of pregnancy.
What is Pregnancy Rhinitis?
This refers to the stuffy, uncomfortable nasal condition that afflicts many pregnant women during pregnancy. It has no environmental causes and generally begins sometime during the first trimester of a pregnancy, but can occur at anytime during pregnancy. This condition can last for the pregnancy’s entire duration or even a few weeks after you have given birth.
It is believed that the increased levels of estrogen and blood during pregnancy result in the swelling of the mucus membrane causing the feeling of stuffiness. Sometimes these conditions also result in the production of excess mucus which helps to trigger pregnancy rhinitis.
What are the Symptoms?
Like most such conditions, the symptoms vary from person to person. However, some of the most common symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis are:
- Stuffy nose (congestion)
- Constant sneezing and coughing
- Itchy nose
- Headache and stuffy feeling in sinus cavities
The condition normally clears up fully within two weeks of giving birth. Treatment for pregnancy rhinitis varies and depends on the degree of the condition. Some popular treatments are:
- Decongestants: Before taking any over the counter medication for pregnancy rhinitis talk to your doctor. In the past there were fears that oral decongestants could be harmful during pregnancy. However, recent studies have refuted these claims. Nonetheless, be guided by your OB/GYN and your own feelings on this.
- Antihistamines: Some of these are safe for use during pregnancy, but for the safety of the fetus, discuss any concerns and be guided by your medical practitioner.
- Saline drops: This is the safest and one of the most recommended treatments for pregnancy rhinitis. Saline solutions for nasal congestion are available in pharmacies or can be made at home.
Apart from the above, you can also do quite a bit to control the condition yourself.
- Drinking plenty of fluids helps but avoid caffeinated drinks.
- You will also find that sleeping with your head elevated helps to alleviate some of the symptoms and discomfort associated with pregnancy rhinitis.
- Taking a warm bath is good as steam works to clear the nasal passage.
- Moderate exercise is also useful in controlling the condition, but since you are pregnant stick to the basics such as walking.
- Place a humidifier in your room at nights to help increase and control the moisture levels. Be sure to follow the care instructions for humidifiers to avoid breathing in potentially harmful bacteria.
As always, when you are pregnant, even if you have an idea of what is wrong still talk it over with your OB/GYN. There is never any need to take chances with your unborn child.