Pregnancy Rhinitis: What Is It and What Can You Do About It?
So many changes happen to your body when you’re pregnant. One that might catch you off guard is a condition called pregnancy rhinitis. Although not life-threatening, the symptoms of this relatively common ailment can make you uncomfortable and make it hard to sleep at night.
What is Pregnancy Rhinitis?
Rhinitis literally means inflammation. When you have pregnancy rhinitis, the mucous membranes that cover the inside of your nose and keeps it moist become swollen and inflamed. It’s by no means uncommon. In fact, about 30% of women experience pregnancy rhinitis, usually around the 13th week of pregnancy, although it can happen at any time. The pesky symptoms may persist into the third trimester
Common symptoms you might experience with pregnancy rhinitis include:
- Runny nose or congestion
- Stuffiness and problems moving air in and out of your nose
- Drainage down the back of your throat when you lie down
Sometimes pregnancy rhinitis can be hard to distinguish from allergies. If you have a history of seasonal allergies and it’s that time of year, that could explain your symptoms. How can you tell the difference? Usually, you don’t experience, itchy or red eyes with pregnancy rhinitis like you do with allergies.
Pregnancy rhinitis can also be confused with the common cold or other upper respiratory infection. If you have a sore throat or low-grade fever, headache, facial pain, or a persistent cough, it’s probably not pregnancy rhinitis. It’s more likely to be a cold or sinus infection.
What Causes Pregnancy Rhinitis?
When you’re pregnant, your body releases more of some hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. While these hormones help to support pregnancy, they also increase blood flow to the glands in your nose, the very ones that make mucous. In response, they pump out more mucous and secretions and you end up with a stuffy or a runny nose.
Get Relief from Pregnancy Rhinitis
If the sniffles are becoming annoying, there are some things you can do to improve the situation. Try these tips:
Increase the humidity in your home and work environment to keep your throat and nasal passages moist. Buy an expensive humidifier and run it throughout the day and night.
Drink a glass of water every hour or so. Doing this will thin your nasal secretions and help you breathe easier.
If you feel stuffy, stand in a hot shower for 10 minutes. The steam will open up your nasal passages.
Use saline nasal spray to clear your nasal passages. The saline will also keep the inside of your nose moist and help reduce swelling and congestion. Saline nasal spray is drug-free and safe to use when you’re pregnant.
Keep the inside of your home as free of dust as possible. Dust and airborne debris will make rhinitis worse.
You might be tempted to take an over-the-counter medication for the rhinitis symptoms but don’t do it without consulting your health care provider first. The exception would be non-medicated, saline nasal sprays.
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy rhinitis is an inconvenience but it’s not life-threatening and won’t harm your baby. The good news is the symptoms will clear up after you give birth, if not sooner. Take the steps above to control the symptoms and comfort yourself in knowing that they’re only temporary.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;755:213-20.
College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “Pregnancy and Allergies”
Are you experiencing sneezing and a runny nose? If you’re pregnant, this may be perfectly normal. You likely have a common ailment many pregnant women experience – pregnancy rhinitis. Find out more about this condition and what you can do to tame the symptoms.