During pregnancy, most women experience symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, and coughing. As a matter of fact, this condition is so common that it even has a name: pregnancy rhinitis. This condition can really affect the quality of a woman’s life making it difficult to breath normally, sleep well, and even interfere with the normal function of the body. It’s a condition that occurs when the nasal passageways become inflamed and irritated during pregnancy thereby leading to sneezing, nasal congestion, and runny nose. Although it’s similar to allergic rhinitis, it’s not caused by any toxins or environmental allergens. Lasting approximately 6 weeks, it can occur anytime during pregnancy.
Causes of Rhinitis of Pregnancy
Interestingly some cases of rhinitis are benign hence do not have any cause apart from the pregnancy itself. During pregnancy, there are a lot of changes that occur in the body that can easily lead to this condition. For instance, there is an increase of blood flow to the mucous membrane including the nose. This change can lead to the swelling of the nose that can result in watery drainage and stuffiness.
During pregnancy, there are also many hormonal changes that take place in the body of a woman. There is a lot of estrogen being produced leading to mucus production and swelling of the nose. Additionally, the amount of blood flow in your body also increases. This may lead to swelling of the small blood vessels in the nose and congestion in the tissues. Apart from estrogen, other hormones may also play a significant role in this. Pregnant women who suffer from this usually complain of these symptoms. Some cases can also be caused by allergies. In this case, the symptoms experienced will be more severe.
Pregnancy Rhinitis Symptoms
While symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis may vary from one woman to another, they usually include:
- Nasal congestion
- Persistent coughing
- Nasal itching
- Itchy watery swollen eyes
- Some women will also experience headaches
If you are sneezing all of a sudden or you have a stuffy nose during pregnancy that has lasted for long it’s likely that you are suffering from this.
How common is this condition?
This condition is increasingly becoming very common. There are some instances where women were not aware of the condition and even thought that they have problems with their noses and tried to seek treatments in the form of drugs. While some studies indicate that these drugs are safe some of them might lead to birth defects. It is, therefore, very important to avoid them since the life that they are carrying is too precious. According to a 2007 study published in the Allergy and Immunology Journal, approximately 20% of pregnant women suffer from this condition. Women who suffer from it find it very difficult to breath normally. More so, when it’s accompanied by postnasal drip, a woman can suffer from gagging episodes and persistant coughing while sleeping.
Pregnancy Rhinitis Treatment
The simplest and the safest treatment for this condition is to avoid allergens. You need to ensure that your house is free of dust, mold, and animal dander. You should also avoid harsh chemical cleaners that can lead to nasal irritations. The perfumes and the chemicals in most cleaning products can lead to nasal irritations to a woman who is already oversensitive. Another great treatment is the neti pot that’s used to irrigate the nasal passages. This is very important especially if you have problems with the swelling and dryness of the nose. While this may seem uncomfortable at first, once you are used to it, it’s very soothing. Only ensure that you follow the instructions well.
Apart from these, you may also use vaporizers if you live in dry climates. In the winter or in dry climates, the air can become uncomfortably dry and lead to irritating sinuses. You can either use a warm or cool moist depending on your personal preference and what works best for you. Ice can also be very effective especially if you are suffering from headaches and congestions. It will help reduce swelling of sinuses that causes headaches and congestions.
While medical treatment for this condition is not always very effective, there are some medications that you can use to relieve yourself. Caution; before taking any medication ensure that you talk to your healthcare provider.
Oral decongestants: Previously, oral decongestants were avoided for fear that they might affect the pregnancy and cause child defects. However, a recent study has confirmed that they are not only safe but also quite beneficial for moms who suffer from this condition.
Nasal saline irrigation: This is the type of treatment that uses a saline wash to help clear the mucus from the passageways thereby improving breathing and comfort. Saline washes also help to lubricate the nostrils so that they can work much more effectively. To effectively use this treatment, you only need to clean each nostril with saline solution. These saline washes are readily available at your local drugstore or pharmacy.
Antihistamines: Antihistamines are drugs that help to relieve a runny nose, congestion, and sneezing. Antihistamine drugs are very safe to use during pregnancy. However, it’s important to discuss with your health care provider before using it to ensure that you are safe.
Alternatives methods to consider using during pregnancy
Keep your nose warm; If you are suffering from this, you need to lie down and put a warm towel on your nose or just sit on warm water.
Avoid allergens; Even if you cannot spot them, you need to try as much as possible to avoid allergens in the air. When flowers are blooming ensure that you stay indoors, shut your windows and wear a mask. When you are back home clean your hands, face, mouth, and nose.
Laser Therapy; Laser therapy is a special surgical method that can be used to alleviate these symptoms during pregnancy.
While this condition can be an inconvenience, it’s not life threatening hence will not harm your baby in any way. The good thing is that most of these symptoms will disappear once you give birth. While taking the above steps to control the symptoms know that it’s a temporary condition.