No matter how pregnant women try to be fit and healthy during the course of their pregnancy, there are still times when illnesses, such as influenza, inevitably come. Conditions such as influenza can really be harmful to pregnant women as it increases their risks for more serious health conditions.
Compared to pre-pregnancy, the immune system during pregnancy is less responsive. The immune system understands that it is safe to have a baby, so it lowers its ability to protect the body. In effect, pregnant women are very likely to catch illnesses and infections including flu.
What is influenza?
Commonly known as flu, influenza is a type of disease which is easily spread from one person to another. Anyone can be affected by influenza and to some people, it can really be life-threatening.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
Most people who are diagnosed with flu usually share the same symptoms. More often than not, the symptoms of influenza last for a couple of days. However, for pregnant women, children and adult, symptoms can manifest for a longer period of time. These symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Extreme tiredness
- Muscle and body aches
If you are pregnant, you should extra aware of the changes that are taking place in your body most especially when you have been diagnosed with influenza. Immediately call a health care provider when you start feeling these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in breathing
- Sudden dizziness
- Persistent severe vomiting
- High fever
- The baby moves less or doesn’t move at all
- Symptoms that fade but eventually come back with worst cough and fever
- Pressure and pain in the belly area
How flu is spread?
As mentioned earlier, influenza is a highly contagious disease. When someone who has been diagnosed with influenza speaks, sneezes or coughs, the virus which causes flu is dispersed into the air. Breathing the same air increases your risk for this condition.
Touching something which has flu virus can also triggered the onset of flu. When you touch something which has a flu virus and then you touch your eyes, nose and mouth, it can cause flu.
Getting a flu shot
The best way to get protected from influenza is to get a flu shot every year. Did you know that is also safe for both the mother and the baby to get a flu shot?
Instead of getting a nasal spray, take a flu shot. Even pregnant women can take a flu shot. It helps in protecting the body against the harmful effects of influenza as well as in preventing its spread. According to research, babies who are born to mothers who have taken a flu shot are less likely to suffer from influenza.
However, not all pregnant women are allowed to get a flu shot. Always ask your doctor about it. Women who are allergic to eggs are not supposed to get one because they are made from eggs.
How influenza affects pregnancy
Pregnant women who have been diagnosed with influenza are at a greater risk for more serious health complications. They are at higher risk for pneumonia which can really be fatal and deadly if left untreated.
Also, flu during pregnancy increases the pregnant women’s risk for premature birth and preterm delivery. This premature delivery usually occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy. As commonly known, premature birth increases the health risks of babies.
Furthermore, influenza during pregnancy greatly affects the immune system of pregnant women. The immune system plays a vital role in protecting the body against diseases and illnesses. When flu is diagnosed, the immune system needs to work harder to fight it.
How to treat influenza?
If you have been diagnosed with influenza, always consult with, and follow your doctor’s prescription to keep your baby’s health and safety guarded. Your doctor can prescribe medicines which are considered safe for your pregnancy.
Always try to get a good rest. Also, even if you don’t have good appetite, try to eat smaller meals to expedite your recovery. And lastly, drink plenty of fluids. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of recommended fluids everyday. It can really help in making you feel better.
Never forget to take your prenatal vitamins. Vitamin C is beneficial in fighting off infections and boosting the immune system, while zinc helps in fighting off germs. As much as possible, increase your intake of foods rich in Vitamin C to expedite your recovery from flu.
According to research, fruits and vegetables like red cabbage, papaya, mango, broccoli, kiwi, citrus, melon, strawberries, bell pepper, tomatoes and spinach are excellent sources of Vitamin C. On the other hand, zinc is best derived from pork, yogurt, cooked oysters, eggs, oatmeals, wheat germ, turkey and beef. Eating garlic can also help as it contains virus-fighting compounds.
Never take medicines unless your doctor approves the medication. As commonly known, some medicines are not safe to take during pregnancy and it may cause adverse effects to the health of your baby.
What to do to prevent the spread of flu?
- Better stay at home. Flu is very contagious so it’s better not to mingle and limit your contact with others for a while.
- Don’t kiss.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
- Avoid sharing your utensils with others.
- Sneeze and cough into your arm or tissue. Throw the used tissues into the trash can.
- Wash your hands, or use alcohol or sanitizer, before touching others
- Use hot and soapy water when washing your utensils.
After giving birth, try to breastfeed your baby. It is an excellent way to give him or her additional protection. Through breastfeeding, you are able to pass the antibodies to your little one. According to research, babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from diseases and infections than babies who aren’t breastfed.