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Which cold remedies are safe during pregnancy?

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It's miserable to have a cold when you're not pregnant, and even more of a challenge when you are, for you do want to avoid decongestants, antihistamines, and remedies containing PPA (phenylpropanolamine). Even though these remedies are available over the counter, they're still drugs that could have an effect on you or your baby, and their safety during pregnancy has not been proven. Some cold remedies and cough medicines contain as much as 25 percent alcohol. Here are some safe remedies for colds that you can use:

  • Saline nose drops and sprays to decrease nasal congestion. Place several drops or squirts in each nostril, wait 5 to 10 minutes, and then blow your nose.

  • Vicks VapoRub to decrease tightness or congestion in your chest and clear nasal passages. It can be rubbed on your throat and chest or used in a vaporizer or steam bowl to create steaming vapors for inhalation.

  • Fluids to keep secretions thin and loose. Drink 8 ounces of liquid — this could be water, juice, or soup — every hour. The old remedy of chicken soup is actually beneficial, for the steam vapors from the soup are thought to clear nasal passages.

  • Warm compresses to relieve sinus congestion. Place a hot, wet washcloth across your nose and eyes. If your sinuses need to drain, you'll feel it begin within 15 minutes.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for muscle aches and pains or for fever.

  • Rest to help the healing process. Try to get additional rest . . . and even spend a day in bed if possible.

  • If you're not feeling better within a week, or if you develop symptoms of a sinus infection (facial pain, earache, or fever), notify your health care provider.  

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