Pregnancy presents a fair amount of questions when it comes to how to treat yourself if you get sick. Even something as minor as a sore throat can make a pregnant woman pause before taking any over-the-counter medications. But what sore throat medicines are acceptable for pregnancy? Most, if not all, advise consulting your healthcare provider before taking anything, because while many drugs have an excellent safety profile, some have unproven safety or have been known to adversely affect the fetus, per American Family Physician. In other words, you can never be too careful. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that pregnant women are more likely to contract colds and flus due to a weaker immune system during pregnancy.
But there are many treatment options for a sore throat, according to Dr. Kecia Gaither, an OB-GYN, women's health expert, and Director of Perinatal Services for NYC Health+Hospitals/Lincoln. It's just important to first determine what is causing the sore throat. In an interview with Romper, Gaither writes, "A sore throat can be an indicator of many types of clinical entities. There are important points to consider: has anyone else been sick around you? Is there an associated fever or headache? Swollen tonsils or white spots on tonsils? Have you had nausea or vomiting? Do you have difficulty breathing, a cough, or ear pain?"
If it's determined that it is, after all, just a simple sore throat, Gaither suggests, "A warm salt water gargle, tea with honey and lemon, Tylenol, and soothing throat lozenges may be beneficial. However, as with any unusual symptom during pregnancy, it is best to contact your healthcare provider." She says that some providers, depending on your symptoms, may want to evaluate you for strep or another clinical entity that could become more serious if not treated properly.
There are also medicines you should avoid completely during pregnancy, regardless of ailment. Sarah Johnson, an RN and the health ambassador for Family Assets, tells Romper, "Pregnant women should avoid ibuprofen, and naproxen, especially once they reach the third trimester, to mitigate the risks associated with early delivery, low birth weight, and other complications." Additionally, Dr. Danielle Plummer, a doctor of pharmacy in Las Vegas writes, "Choose products without preservatives or alcohol, and always use the least amount for the shortest amount of time that will provide relief." Johnson and Plummer also concur on the use of Tylenol for a simple sore throat. "Acetaminophen — e.g. Tylenol — is generally considered to be the safest analgesic and antipyretic to take," writes Johnson.
As stated above, if you prefer to stay away from over-the-counter medicines altogether, there are natural alternatives to a sore throat that you might feel more comfortable with, like gargling a warm mixture of salt water and baking soda, and drinking a soothing herbal tea like Chamomile or hot water with lemon and honey, according to Healthline. To boost your immune system and fight off future infections, practice good hand hygiene, eat plenty of healthy foods, take a prenatal vitamin, drink water and get plenty of sleep.
At the end of the day, those "check with your doctor" labels are there for a reason. If you are experiencing any other symptoms and are concerned that this may be more than a simple cough, call your healthcare provider first before taking any over-the-counter medications.
Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB-GYN, women's health expert, and Director of Perinatal Services for NYC Health+Hospitals/Lincoln
Sarah Johnson, an RN and the Health Ambassador for Family Assets
Dr. Danielle Plummer, a Doctor of Pharmacy and 3-time Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) survivor