A cold is a very common mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. It can cause a blocked nose followed bya runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat and a cough. The cold will usually last for about a week as the body fights off the infection.
There is no cure for a cold, although you can usually relieve the symptoms of a cold at home by taking over-the-counter medication, such as paracetamol, and drinking plenty of fluids.
Flu is an infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It’s not the same as a cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses. Symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer.
You can catch flu - short for influenza - all year round, but it is especially common in winter.
If you have flu, it will usually be possible for you to treat yourself effectively at home.
If this is the case, you should:
- Keep warm
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
If you feel unwell and have a fever, you can take paracetamol to help lower your high temperature and relieve aches.
If you are in a high-risk group and are more likely to suffer complications from flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication.
Antivirals will not cure flu, but they will help to:
- Reduce the length of time you are ill by around one day
- Relieve some of the symptoms
- Reduce the potential for serious complications.
If you are pregnant and think you have the flu, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you do have flu, there's a prescribed medicine you can take that might help, or reduce your risk of complications, but it needs to be taken very soon after symptoms appear.
Medication during pregnancy
Ideally, you should avoid taking medicines when you’re pregnant, particularly during the first three months. or minor aches and pains often don't need treating with medicines. However, if you're pregnant and feel you need to take medicine, paracetamol is usually safe to take.
Before taking any medicine when you’re pregnant, you should get advice from your midwife or doctor.
Paracetamol during pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, paracetamol is the preferred choice to treat:
- mild or moderate pain
- high temperature (fever).
Paracetamol has been used routinely during all stages of pregnancy to reduce a high temperature and for pain relief. There is no clear evidence that it has any harmful effects on the unborn baby.
However, as with any medicine taken during pregnancy, use paracetamol at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. If the recommended dose of paracetamol doesn’t control your symptoms or you’re in pain, get more advice from your midwife or doctor.
Ibuprofen during pregnancy
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID). Talk to your doctor before taking ibuprofen or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) if you are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy.
It is not known for sure whether or not taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin in the early stages of pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage. NSAIDs should not be taken in the last three months of your pregnancy when use can lead to bleeding before and after childbirth, delayed labour and birth, and heart or kidney problems for your unborn baby.
Paracetamol, which is not an NSAID, is the preferred medicine for pain relief and temperature control during pregnancy.
Flu vaccination during pregnancy
The flu jab will protect both you and your baby.
There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia. Other complications are not common, but include:
- Middle ear infection (otitis media)
- Blood infection that causes a severe drop in blood pressure (septic shock)
- Infection of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Inflammation of the hart muscle (endocarditis).
If you have flu while you're pregnant, it could mean your baby is born prematurely or has a low birthweight, and can even lead to stillbirth or death in the first week of life.
Getting the flu vaccine is safe during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date. The vaccine doesn't carry risks for either you or your baby.
Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first six months of their lives.
The vaccine also poses no risk to women who are breastfeeding, or to their babies.
For more information about risk of Flu During pregnancy and to book your Flu Vaccination Appointment with Nisa Well Woman Clinic, please contact us at: