Pregnancy and the Flu

January 25, 2012

Flu Season Again

It seems to be a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon. Every year, usually between the months of November and March people get sick. It isn't just one or two people, it seems as though it is often half the community you live in. The sickness? The Flu.

Influenza, or the flu, is an illness that is easily spread (which would explain why "everyone has the flu"). It's viral, meaning it is caused by a virus and can be passed in the air from person to person through a sneeze, a cough, talking or just heavy breathing. It can also be passed by touching a doorknob or telephone that an infected person has touched just prior. You touch the infected item then put your hand to your face - eyes, mouth, or nose - and whammy, you've got the flu.

Flu Symptoms: Aches, Pains, and that Run Down Feeling

Most people just get sick with the flu. However, the flu can have some serious effects upon pregnant women especially. Flu symptoms are pretty consistent: fever, chills, cough and sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, body aches and muscle pains, fatigue and, in some cases vomiting and diarrhea. As if these symptoms aren't bad enough, a pregnant woman's immune system tends to be weaker because it is busy taking care of baby. With reduced efficiency of the immune system, pregnant women can be hit harder than the rest of the population when flu season arrives.

Before you became pregnant, if you got sick you likely found an over-the-counter drug to address the aches and pains as well as the fever and congestion. Being pregnant usually makes moms-to-be wary of taking OTCs or any other type of drug - and for good reason. Most of them have adverse effects on the baby and it just isn't worth risking your unborn baby's health for the sake of some fast relief for yourself. Besides, most cold remedies don't work that well anyway.

Pregnancy Flu Treatment Without Drugs

There are a few ways to deal with the flu when you're pregnant. Some of the medical choices include pseudoephedrine (not in the first trimester), nasal sprays, and the flu shot. There is always a big push for pregnant women to get the flu shot and the medical sources commonly tell you that it is perfectly safe as long as you get the shot rather than using the nasal spray which is made from live virus. The shot uses inactive virus. However, there is a lot of research out there regarding the use of mercury in flu shots and mercury is deadly for the unborn baby. It crosses the placenta and the effects can be devastating. The connection between mercury and miscarriage is well established. So, before you get the shot, be sure to do your research.

Treating Your Pregnancy Flu Symptoms Naturally (Things You Already Knew)

Well then, what can you do outside of pharmaceuticals to treat your symptoms? The flu is a self-limiting illness, which means that it will run its course in about a week or so whether you medicate or not. Although all of the symptoms are challenging to deal with, the good news is they are a clear sign your immune system is still operational. Take fever for example. Viruses are heat sensitive. When you get a fever the raised temperature of your body stops the virus from spreading and causes the release of natural antiviral chemicals.

The best thing you can do for yourself if you get the flu is to support your immune system while the illness takes its course. Here's how you can do that (you know all of this stuff but you need to be reminded):

· Get plenty of rest because resting allows your body to release potent immune enhancing compounds that improve the function of your immune system.

· Stay well hydrated. If you have a fever, your body is burning up fluid. Staying well hydrated also keeps the membranes in your nose moist and less hospitable to viruses. A wet nose isn't just for dogs.

· Choose your beverages wisely. Lots of water, diluted juices, herbal teas and clear soups are the best way to stay hydrated. Ginger and peppermint teas help your body sweat to release toxins.

· Freshly squeeze or pressed juices are the best because they still have their vitamin and mineral content as well as less sugar. Sugar reduces the ability of your body to fight off illness by lowering your immune system's ability to function.

· Take vitamin C supplements and, since you're pregnant, zinc is a good supplement for you at this time, too.

· Echinacea has been widely studied and proven to be excellent for strengthening the immune system and fighting viral, bacterial and fungal infections.

· Eat good foods that increase your immune health, especially garlic.

If your throat is sore, gargle with hot salt water and use a humidifier to keep the air moist and warm. If you don't have a humidifier, hang over the sink and inhale steam. Essential oils such as peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus are safe and effective to use with steam inhalations during pregnancy to ease nasal congestion. Keep your lips moist with lip balm and keep a water bottle handy.

Sometimes the symptoms of the flu can appear to be the same as pregnancy. If you don't know if you're pregnant and you think you've got the flu, check out this article.

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