Women's Healthcare Topics

Do I Have a Cold or Just a Pregnancy Related Stuffy Nose?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Rhinitis of Pregnancy

Feeling more congested than normal during your pregnancy? You are not alone! Most pregnant women report a stuffy nose during pregnancy that comes and goes regardless of whether they have a cold or not. Believe it or not a stuffy nose is quite common during pregnancy. It actually has a name… Rhinitis of Pregnancy.

During pregnancy, you have more blood flow through your body's mucous membranes. This causes the lining of your nose to swell, which can restrict airflow and cause you to feel congested and stuffed up. It can also contribute to nosebleeds during pregnancy – another common occurrence.

Most women will experience a stuffy nose during pregnancy any time after the first trimester. Some will find their nose frequently seems congested at night while others may experience congestion on and off throughout the day.

Just because you have a stuffy nose during pregnancy does not mean you have a cold. Unless of course your stuffy nose is accompanied by a sore throat, sneezing or other cough or cold symptoms.

Some women also find their allergies are much worse during pregnancy, and this can contribute to the stuffy nose syndrome in pregnancy.

Treating A Stuffy Nose During Pregnancy

Learn how to treat your stuff nose in pregnancy.

There are several simple strategies you can adopt to treat your stuffy nose during pregnancy. One of the best and easiest ways to relieve congestion is by taking a warm bath and allowing the steam vapors to penetrate your nose.

You may alternatively run your head over a steamy sink or hang around a steamy bathroom. Some women find relief by placing a vaporizer with a small dribble of eucalyptus oil in it in their bedroom at night. This helps keep the air in your room filled with moisture which can help reduce congestion.

Some doctors recommend using saline nasal drops during pregnancy. You can try using a few drops in each nostril until you experience relief. There is also a natural remedy referred to as a 'neti' pot. While unusual looking, a neti pot can help dramatically improve nasal congestion, during pregnancy or in the event of a cold or the flu.

Not sure what a neti pot is? It is a small instrument you can find online or in most health food stores. Most contain a conical tip that you insert in the nostril. You fill the neti pot with warm salt water and flush each nostril with roughly 7 ounces or so of water. It works along the same lines as saline nasal drops, only generally lasts longer and is much more effective. While it may take some getting used to, once you try a neti pot you may never go back!

Preventing A Stuffy Nose During Pregnancy

While there are no guarantees, you can help prevent a stuffy nose during pregnancy by keeping the air in your home moist (using a vaporizer) and by drinking plenty of fluids to help keep your mucous membranes soft.

If you find your nasal stuffiness is preventing you from sleeping, you might try elevating your head at night. If this doesn't work you may ask your doctor if it is safe to try an over the counter decongestant. Your doctor may be able to recommend something after the first trimester.

While annoying at times, keep in mind that a stuffy nose is nothing dangerous and will generally resolve itself shortly after delivery. Consider it another reminder that you are creating the miracle of life within you! Keeping a box of aloe infused tissues handy will do wonders for your spirits and your nasal discharge.


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