Flu Symptoms in the First Trimester

The pregnant woman who sits down on a sofa
A pregnant woman sitting under a blanket with a cup of tea. (Image: byryo/iStock/Getty Images)

The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory illness which can be spread from person to person through sneezing or coughing. It may also be spread by touching the surface of an item that an infected person touched or sneezed upon. The flu is dangerous during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women who will be pregnant during flu season receive the influenza vaccine for additional protection. There are several flu symptoms that can appear in the first trimester.

Fever and Headache

Fever and headache are common symptoms of influenza. Fever is unhealthy for the fetus throughout pregnancy, but high fever in the first trimester is thought to be responsible for certain birth defects, including problems in brain and spine development, reports BabyMed. Fever may also lead to dehydration. If you are pregnant and develop a fever, that is, a body temperature above 100.5 degrees, a doctor may recommend regular-strength acetaminophen to help lower fever, diminish headache and ease body aches. Increasing your fluid intake of water and clear liquids to reduce the risk of becoming dehydrated might also prove helpful. If your fever does not respond to medication, contact your obstetric provider.

Sore Throat and Cough

A sore throat and cough may occur during infection with influenza in your first trimester. Warm decaffeinated tea, honey and lemon, throat lozenges and acetaminophen may help relieve sore throat. If you develop a severe cough, rest assured that the fetus is protected inside your uterus--you cannot cough so hard that you miscarry or go into labor, states BabyMed. A doctor can recommend cough medications that are safe to take during the first trimester. The use of a humidifier and throat lozenges may be helpful in relieving cough. If your cough is accompanied by green or yellow tinged sputum you may have an infection that needs to be treated. Contact your health care provider for evaluation.

Runny or Stuffy Nose

According to the March of Dimes, a runny or stuffy nose is a symptom of the flu during pregnancy. There are several natural remedies to try during the first trimester. The use of a humidifier or a warm steamy shower can help relieve nasal congestion. Saline nasal spray, drops or wash can be helpful in clearing nasal passages. Sleeping propped up on a pillow in an upright position will help drain sinus cavities. Over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines should be avoided during the first trimester. If you develop nasal congestion that is intolerable, contact your obstetrician for additional treatment options.

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