Numerous physical changes occur during the months of pregnancy. In addition to the familiar symptoms of weight gain, morning sickness and fatigue, you may notice an increase in sinus mucus and congestion. Although sinusitis is common during pregnancy, symptoms that accompany congestion may require medical diagnosis and treatment, especially if you develop a bacterial infection.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause your nasal passages to swell and produce more mucus. This change occurs most often during the second trimester. Pregnancy causes the blood flow in your mucous membranes to increase. In response to the additional blood volume, the lining of your sinuses and nasal passageways tends to swell, sometimes restricting your airflow.
Pregnancy is one of the main risk factors in the development of sinusitis. Sinusitis is the medical term for inflammation of your sinuses. This swelling can block the drainage, causing thick mucus to build up in the sinus cavities. The sinus discharge may appear yellow or green in color and can cause bad breath. Other common symptoms of sinusitis include cough, loss of smell and sore throat.
In “The Handbook of Nasal Disease,” Dr. Terrence M. Davidson recommends pregnant women use nasal irrigation to wash away the thick secretions. Rinsing your sinuses and nasal passageways two to three times per day may help provide temporary relief. Using a humidifier during your pregnancy may also help soothe your swollen sinuses.
Although nasal decongestants are safe for most people, you should consult your doctor before using any over-the-counter medications during pregnancy. The continued use of nasal sprays can lead to a reliance on these products and may require progressively larger amounts of spray to provide adequate relief. Avoid taking alternative medicines, such as herbs and nutritional supplements, to treat sinus conditions or other health problems you may experience during pregnancy. Thick sinus mucus accompanied by fever may indicate the presence of an infection. Let your doctor know if you run a fever while you are pregnant.