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Pregnancy is a time of great joy and remarkable physical transformations. Amidst these changes, dealing with a sore throat can be particularly bothersome. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and safe treatments for a sore throat while pregnant can help expectant mothers manage this discomfort effectively.

This blog explores the various aspects of experiencing a sore throat during pregnancy, including its causes, symptoms, and remedies, while also addressing concerns about the impact on the baby.

What Causes a Sore Throat During Pregnancy?

A sore throat during pregnancy can result from several factors, ranging from common colds to more specific pregnancy-related conditions. Identifying the cause is crucial for appropriate treatment.

  • Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy hormones can lead to nasal congestion and postnasal drip, which may cause throat irritation. The increased blood flow to mucous membranes can also contribute to a sore throat [*].
  • Weakened Immune System: Pregnancy naturally suppresses the immune system to protect the developing baby. This suppression makes pregnant women more susceptible to infections, including those causing sore throats [*].
  • Allergies: Pregnancy can exacerbate existing allergies or trigger new ones, leading to throat irritation [*].
  • Acid Reflux: Hormonal changes during pregnancy often cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), leading to stomach acids irritating the throat [*].
  • Infections: Viral infections like the common cold or flu, and bacterial infections such as strep throat, are common causes of sore throats.

What Are the Symptoms of a Sore Throat During Pregnancy?

A sore throat can be particularly uncomfortable during pregnancy, adding to the myriad of physical changes and challenges you may already be experiencing. Recognizing the symptoms is crucial for effective management and relief.

Here are some common symptoms of a sore throat caused by bacterial infection like strep throat (Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus), or viruses like flu or COVID 19 during pregnancy to help you identify and address this condition.

Strep Throat Symptoms

  • Severe Sore Throat: A persistent and severe sore throat is a primary symptom of strep throat.
  • Red and Swollen Tonsils: Often accompanied by white patches or streaks of pus.
  • Fever: A high fever, usually above 101°F (38.3°C), can indicate strep throat.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: Tender and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Virus Symptoms

  • Mild to Moderate Sore Throat: Usually less severe than bacterial infections.
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose: Often accompanied by nasal congestion.
  • Cough: A dry or productive cough is common.
  • Low-Grade Fever: Mild fever that is generally below 101°F (38.3°C).
  • Fatigue and Body Aches: General feelings of malaise and fatigue.

What to Take for a Sore Throat While Pregnant

When dealing with a sore throat during pregnancy, home remedies can provide relief without risking the baby's health. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Saltwater Gargle: Gargling with warm salt water can soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation.
  • Honey and Lemon: Mixing honey and lemon in warm water can provide a soothing effect and help fight infection.
  • Herbal Teas: Chamomile, peppermint, and elderberry tea are caffeine-free and can be comforting and help alleviate throat pain.
  • Humidifier: Using a humidifier can add moisture to the air, easing throat irritation.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids keeps the throat moist and helps flush out infections.
  • Vitamin C: Acerola cherries, cold cantaloupe, kiwis and oranges or similar citrus fruits can help improve healing time and keep you nourished.
  • All Fruit Popsicles: Opt for one that isn't loaded with sugars or make your own from your favorite juice.
  • Lozenges: Choose a lozenge that has added benefits for healing like vitamin C or elderberry.
  • Fruit and Vegetable smoothies: Blending your favorite frozen fruits and a handful of kale or spinach will help soothe your throat and keep you from falling calorie deficient while pregnant. If you can tolerate it, add a cup of greek yogurt to boost protein and calcium as well.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt's smooth, chilled texture provides relief for a sore throat. Additionally, it is rich in immune-boosting components such as protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and probiotic bacteria, which help combat illness and provide nourishment to accelerate recovery [*].

Some over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are considered safe during pregnancy, but always consult a healthcare provider before taking any medication.

  • Acetaminophen: Commonly recommended for pain relief and fever reduction, but recent controversy about its use during pregnancy may have you doing more research [*].
  • Unmedicated Throat Lozenges: There are many safe and soothing options available.
  • Vicks Vaporub: Applied liberally to the throat and chest, Vicks can provide some relief.
  • Cough Syrups: Certain cough syrups are safe, but it's essential to check the ingredients and consult your doctor.

If your symptoms are worsening, or you are not finding the relief you need, you may need to contact a medical professional for antibiotics. Antibiotics may not be prescribed unless a bacterial infection screening is positive. They do not treat viruses or allergies, so it is important to distinguish whether antibiotics will be helpful.

What Not to Take for a Sore Throat While Pregnant

Certain medications and treatments should be avoided during pregnancy due to potential risks to the baby or a miscarriage of the pregnancy.

  • Ibuprofen and Aspirin: These are not recommended as they can cause complications for your pregnancy and possibly congenital defects to the infant [*].
  • Decongestants: Many decongestants contain ingredients that are not safe during pregnancy. Phenylephrine, Pseudoephedrine, and Phenylpropanolamine top the list. The chief concern is birth defects and these medications are strongly discouraged [*].
  • Herbal Supplements or Teas: Not all herbal supplements or teas are safe; some may contain harmful ingredients.
  • Medicated Throat Sprays and Lozenges: Those containing benzocaine may not be safe without a doctor's recommendation.

Can a Sore Throat Harm the Baby While Pregnant?

Generally, a sore throat itself is not harmful to the baby. However, the underlying cause of the sore throat, such as an infection, could pose risks if left untreated.

It's essential to monitor symptoms and seek medical advice if you experience severe or persistent symptoms. Maintaining overall health during pregnancy is crucial for both the mother and the baby.

When to Call Your Doctor

While many sore throats can be managed at home, certain symptoms warrant a call to your healthcare provider.

  • High Fever: If you develop a high fever (above 101°F or 38.3°C), contact your doctor.
  • Difficulty Breathing or Swallowing: Severe symptoms like these require immediate medical attention.
  • Persistent or Worsening Symptoms: If your sore throat lasts more than a few days without improvement, seek medical advice.
  • White Patches or Pus on Tonsils: These symptoms could indicate strep throat, which requires medical treatment.
  • Severe Pain: Intense throat pain that doesn't improve with home remedies or OTC treatments should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

The Bottom Line

Experiencing a sore throat while pregnant can be uncomfortable and worrisome, but understanding the causes and safe remedies can help manage this common issue effectively.

Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any medication or if you have concerns about your symptoms.

About MiracleCord

MiracleCord is dedicated to providing high-quality cord blood banking services and valuable health information to expectant parents. Our goal is to support you through every stage of your pregnancy, ensuring you and your baby stays healthy and informed.

Contact us today at 888.743.2673 or check out our Free Info Kit. You’ll be glad you did!

DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE USED AS MEDICAL ADVICE.The materials and information contained on the MiracleCord website is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended to, and does not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis, and should not be used as such. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. If you are seeking personal medical advice, you should consult with a licensed physician. Always consult with a qualified health care provider regarding a medical condition.

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