Cold Season

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If You Catch A Cold While Pregnant, Here's What Doctors Say You Can Take

Hopefully, you can get some relief.

There’s a lengthy list of dos and don’ts regarding what we can put in our bodies while pregnant. And when we would normally pop a Tylenol or Motrin for a headache, we have to pause and make sure that it’s safe for the baby. But that’s when we turn to the experts. Doctors can advise on what is safe to take for a cold while pregnant.

Getting a cough and the sniffles right now can be unnerving when so many people are dealing with other viruses. That tickle in your throat may make your heart drop for a second, but finding out it’s just a cold is a welcome relief that you never thought you’d have. Pregnancy does cause our bodies to be more vulnerable.

“Your immune system is slightly more compromised or weakened as a result of the pregnancy, so you are more susceptible to catching a cold,” Navya Mysore, MD, and primary care provider, tells Romper.

Up next is deciding how to treat your symptoms and get some ease, and fortunately, “There are many medications that are safe during pregnancy when you have a cold,” Mysore says.

Cold symptoms typically pass within seven to 10 days, but since your body is already in full create a human mode, the discomfort of not breathing through a stuffy nose is an extra annoyance.

Mysore offers advice on medications that are safe and what you should avoid.

Are Over-The-Counter Medications Safe?

The short answer is yes. But be careful to watch out for their FDA-assigned category.

“Many over-the-counter medications are classified by the FDA according to risk in pregnancy. Those falling in categories A, B, and many in C are generally considered safe for use during pregnancy, and the reason is because the benefit of taking these medications outweighs risks demonstrated by human and animal studies.”

According to the FDA, assigned risk categories serve the purpose of preventing harmful consumption because 10% of birth defects come from maternal pharmaceutical exposure.

Which Medications Can I Take For A Cold?

Mysore's recommendations of safe products are acetaminophen or Tylenol, budesonide nasal sprays like Rhinocort, dextromethorphan or Robitussin, and dextromethorphan-guaifenesin, which is Robitussin DM.

“Some of these are category B & C. Pseudoephedrine, or Sudafed can increase your blood pressure, so I would make sure to review it with your OB or primary care before taking the medication for your cold symptoms.”

In case you would question how much you should take, Mysore says, “Pregnancy does not change dosage amounts for medications, so you can continue to take the same dosage you were prior to being pregnant.”

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What Medications Should I Avoid?

Based on the FDA category, if a medication is labeled D and X, it isn’t recommended.

Mysore tells Romper she would “absolutely avoid in pregnancy unless directed by your OB and generally, I suggest running by your OB medications that fall under category C. With category D and X medications often the risk of taking these medications is not worth the benefit you would see with your symptoms unless your symptoms are more severe. And that would, of course, be discussed with your doctor.”

Going the home remedy route is always an option.

“A few other things you can do to help your symptoms are getting plenty of rest, make sure you are hydrated by drinking water and warm liquids, and gargling salt water can help to ease your sore throat. I also always suggest a humidifier by your bed and cough drops to help with a sore throat and a dry cough,” Mysore says.

In 2015, the FDA replaced the lettering system with more detailed and comprehensible labels, so providers and pregnant and lactating mothers equally understand how medications will affect their baby.

As a precaution, always read the labels, which should now list specifically if it is safe for women who are pregnant. If you still aren’t sure, contact your doctor for additional guidance.


Navya Mysore, MD and primary care provider