When you are first trying to conceive, every little symptom of nausea, dizziness, and exhaustion feels like a sign of a bun in the oven. After all, it's hard not to overanalyze when you are excited about the possibility. But while common symptoms, like mornings sickness and exhaustion, might point at the possibility of a growing little one, what about some of the lesser known symptoms? My friend, for instance, swears her first symptoms of pregnancy with both of her little ones was a stuffy nose. But is a sinus infection a sign of pregnancy?
"A lot of women, both with existing sinus problems and others with no history of sinusitis, report an increase in sinus congestion during pregnancy," Dr. Mashfika N Alam tells Romper in an email interview. "This is largely due to the surge in estrogen during pregnancy which tends to cause vasodilation generally and hence, increased blood flow through nasal and sinus passages. This leads to symptoms such as runny or blocked nasal passages, congested sinuses and even sinusitis."
That's not to say, however, that a sinus infection alone is a reliable sign of early pregnancy, Alam says. But coupled with a few other signs, she says, it could indicate pregnancy. "Women who tend to suffer from sinusitis frequently may not be able to tell that," she says. "[But] on the other hand women who are not usually prone to sinusitis may see it as a positive sign of pregnancy in the presence of a few other symptoms."
Another reason your sinus pain might indicate pregnancy? "Pregnancy lowers the immune system and could be predisposed to increase the risk of infection," Dr. Daniel Roshan, a board-certified OB-GYN in New York City, tells Romper in an email interview. Roshan says this factor makes it even more important for pregnant women to safeguard against infection and viruses with rest, supplements and healthy foods, as well as the flu vaccine. The tough part about sinus pain when you're pregnant (besides the obvious)? It’s tough to tell whether the symptoms are caused by an actual infection or just your hormones, according to The Bump.
"It is important to note that sinusitis, or a sinus infection, is not brought about by pregnancy," Dr. Edward Marut of Fertility Centers of Illinois tells Romper in an email interview. Signs of a sinus infection include pain in your sinuses, nasal discharge and congestion, throat irritation, and a cough, according to Healthline.
"A true sinus infection will often present with green or thick yellow mucus, and may be accompanied by fever, lethargy, chills and feeling under the weather," Dr. Natasha Chinn, OB-GYN and Fellow of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG), tells Romper in an email interview. "If there is any question about these symptoms, the patient should come in to be evaluated." On the other hand, nose bleeds and stuffiness might just be the result of the elevated hormones that come with pregnancy, Chinn, who practices at Brescia Migliaccio in Hoboken, New Jersey, says.
If you are diagnosed with a sinus infection, the treatment includes medications like cefprozil (Cefzil) and amoxicillin-clavulanate, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA). Acetaminophen is also considered safe to use during pregnancy for pain relief and/or headaches. The APA noted you should check with your doctor about the use of decongestants, antihistamines, expectorants, and cough suppressants for upper-respiratory infections. You might also find relief with the use of home remedies, like a humidifier, saline nose drops, nasal strips, and elevating your head at night.
Of course, like any symptom that comes with pregnancy, including morning sickness and exhaustion, sinus pain is just another one that will see its way out with the arrival of your little one. Well, maybe not the exhaustion. After all, there will be those late night feedings. But at least your nose won't hurt while doing it.
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