“Pregnancy affects your immune system, so if your immune system is already slightly compromised, you can be more susceptible to getting infections,” Dr. Pate said. “In addition, if you do become infected, your immune system does not have the capability to fight the infection as well as those with a normal immune system.”
“All pregnant women should make sure that they receive the flu shot. In addition, they should use standard precautions such as good hand hygiene, as well as avoiding those who are diagnosed with the flu or have flu-like symptoms,” she said.
She added that every person in the household of a pregnant women should also be vaccinated, which is step one in helping to protect her. “Should someone in the household develop the flu despite being vaccinated, they should use standard precautions including: good hand hygiene (e.g., hand washing with nonantimicrobial soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub) after having contact with respiratory secretions and sneeze/cough etiquette, which entails covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing of the tissue after use.”
Dr. Pate noted that flu symptoms present themselves fairly typically, even if you’re pregnant. “Pregnant women present the same way as others do with flu symptoms, which include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, and body aches,” she said.
Should a pregnant woman contract the flu despite her best efforts to protect herself against it, there are a few ways of treating the nasty virus. “Antiviral medication is available for treatment,” Dr. Pate said. “It is recommended that treatment begins within 48 hours of symptom onset for earlier recovery; however, the healthcare provider may decide to treat with antiviral medication later on in illness regardless. For symptomatic relief, safe options are limited to Tylenol, which can and should be used to decrease fever and can also help with body aches. Pregnant women should contact their obstetrician regarding additional recommendations for symptomatic relief.”
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