Sinus congestion may result from viral or bacterial infections, allergies, environmental irritants or even the increased blood flow that naturally occurs during pregnancy. Unfortunately, not all over-the-counter or prescription medications are safe for use during pregnancy; diphenhydramine, for example, is known to cross the placenta and may produce oxytocin-like effects when taken at high dosages. Due to the potential risks of taking sinus medications during pregnancy, and because an untreated infection can potentially trigger preterm labor, seek medical care for any sinus congestion that develops during your pregnancy.
Boil water in a pot on the stove. Drape a towel over your head and neck, and breathe in the steam through your nose. Steam often assists in loosening sinus congestion and helping your sinuses drain. Repeat this procedure several times each day, being careful to avoid burns.
Mix half a teaspoon of table salt and a pinch of baking soda into 8 oz. of warm water. Suck half of the mixture into a rubber bulb syringe, lean your head forward over a sink, and squeeze the contents of the bulb syringe slowly through one nostril. The liquid should come out the other side of your nose. Repeat with the remaining 1/2 cup on the other side.
Run a humidifier inside your bedroom at night to break up thick congestion. Clean the unit daily to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
Prop yourself up on pillows while sleeping to encourage your sinuses to drain. Maintaining this position in bed promotes easier breathing and restful sleep.
Try an over-the-counter decongestant only with your obstetrician's approval. Decongestants help constrict blood vessels to reduce mucosal swelling and ease congestion. Decongestant sprays can trigger rebound congestion after only a few days of use. For this reason, most doctors caution against using them for longer than three days.
Use an antihistamine if your doctor believes your sinus congestion may be associated with an allergic reaction. Some pregnant women notice a worsening of existing allergies during pregnancy.
Take a full course of antibiotics to clear your sinuses if you have a sinus infection. Continue taking the medication for the prescribed period of time, even after your symptoms disappear. Several antibiotics considered safe during pregnancy can treat sinus infections effectively.
- Mayo Clinic; Antibiotics and Pregnancy: What's Safe?; Roger W. Harms, MD; November 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sinusitis; Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD; November 2009
- Baby Center; Stuffy Nose During Pregnancy; February 2011
- Baby Center; Is It Safe to Use a Nasal Spray Decongestant During Pregnancy?; John Larsen and Ronald J. Ruggiero
- National Jewish Health; Nasal Wash Treatment; Ann Mullen, RN, MS, AE-C; July 2011
- American Family Physician; Over-the-Counter Medications in Pregnancy; Ronald A. Black, M.D., D. Ashley Hill, M.D.; June 2003