When flu strikes during pregnancy your treatment options are more limited – but there are ways to boost your immunity and ease symptoms.

Whether you’re simply glowing or you’re plagued by tiredness, aches and nausea during pregnancy, adding flu to the mix is never pleasant and in severe cases it can also be dangerous. ‘A pregnant woman’s immune system has to find a balance between accepting the “half-foreign-fetus” and the developing placenta and protecting her at the same time,’ explains Dr Marlena du Toit, a gynaecologist at Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt. ‘Your immune system should be balanced,’ she adds. Although your immune response may decrease as a result, most women enjoy a healthy pregnancy. 

Boosting immunity

A healthy lifestyle remains the key principle in boosting one’s immune system,’ says Dr du Toit. She suggests the following ways to boost immunity during pregnancy:

  • Eat whole food – raw fruit and vegetables, plus legumes. A well-balanced diet should be a priority.
  • Exercise regularly unless your doctor advises you to refrain from exercise.
  • Get good-quality sleep.
  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Take a multivitamin.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene – wash your hands frequently and always wash raw foods.
  • Control your weight gain during pregnancy.

Safe pregnancy flu remedies

‘Best of all is to get the seasonal flu vaccine during autumn to prevent the onset of flu,’ says Dr du Toit. She suggests the following safe flu remedies to try during pregnancy:

  • Paracetamol: Take a Panado Medsip sachet every 4-6 hours.
  • Vitamin C: Take 1000mg daily.
  • Drink a mixture of honey and lemon heated in a microwave to alleviate coughs.
  • Take Sinupret tablets for relief of congestion.
  • Take Euphorbium drops for symptomatic relief of flu symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Remember that because your immune system changes during pregnancy, flu complications can arise. It’s therefore best to consult your doctor when flu strikes during pregnancy so he or she can monitor your recovery and treatment, keeping you and your unborn baby as safe as possible. 

Medications to avoid

With the exception of a life-threatening situation, in which case your doctor will guide you, Dr du Toit advises that the following flu medications must be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Sedating antihistamines such as Texa, Telfast and Loratidine
  • Flu medications with decongestants such as Degoran, Flusin, Advil CS, Grippon, Flutex, Sinutab, Sinucon and Demazin
  • Cough mixtures such as Benylin, Bisolvin and Mucospect
  • Analgesics such as Myprodol, Mybulen, Anadin, Ibuprofen and Nurofen

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.