Fever during pregnancy is always a red flag and it is highly recommended to consult your primary care physician at earliest convenience. The symptoms may suggest minor ailments (such as common cold) but may also indicate a minor presentation of a much grave issue.
There are ways to safely lower a fever during pregnancy whether you choose to take medication or not. Proper dress, hydration and air circulation are just some of the keys to keeping a fever down during pregnancy. Reducing a fever can help you be more comfortable. Here are some suggestions to reduce a fever during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Fever During Pregnancy
The common symptoms are the same as you are likely to get with fever even when you are not pregnant:
Possible Causes of Fever During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the immune system of a mother doesn’t work the same as before. That is why there is 100 percent chance that the causative condition can get worse.
1. Gastrointestinal Virus
Besides fever, GI bug can cause vomiting and diarrhea that may culminate in serious problems for pregnant mothers if not treated in time. Dehydration can not only cause pre-mature contractions but may also end up in preterm labor. Hypotension, weakness, dizziness, fainting and electrolyte imbalance are some side effects of poorly managed GI infection.
When to worry: Most mild cases resolve on its own with home remedies and by adding fluids and BRAT diet. It is important to contact your doctor immediately if you experience complications such as blood in the vomitus, signs of dehydration, developing fever or appearance of blood in bowel movements.
2. Urinary Tract Infection
Female urinary tract system is comprised of ureter, bladder, kidneys and urethra. Urinary tract is a frequent site of infection due to invasion and multiplication of bacteria in the lining of urinary tract. Some of the infections are not serious and resolve spontaneously over time (or via antibiotics). Drinking copious amounts of liquids is always a help.
When to worry: If it is left untreated, the infection can travel to kidneys from bladder and cause serious complications such as preterm labor, baby’s low birth weight and sepsis. Some UTIs are asymptomatic, but in case of moderate to severe infection, you may experience high urge to urinate, sensation of burning while passing urine, cloudy urine or blood in it, pelvic pain etc.
If a person experience chills, fever, nausea, coughing, vomiting and achiness then this might be influenza. Pregnant mothers are at higher risk of developing flu and can get seriously ill due to their suppressed immune system. According to National Institute of Health, the symptoms of flu are severe as compared to symptoms of cold.
When to worry: It is important to consult with doctor immediately as soon as you suspect flu’s symptoms. The doctor will recommend higher intake of fluids and ample rest with some antiviral medication to decrease the risk of complications and the duration of infection. It is also important for all pregnant women to have influenza shot.
4. Common Cold
Bacterial invasion of upper respiratory tract can lead to symptoms such as sinus infection, sensation of blocked or clogged nasal pathways, larynx and pharynx. A pregnant mother may experience symptoms same as flu, like fever, runny nose, cough, difficulty in breathing and sore throat. These infections are not serious and can be resolved within 3 to 14 days and can be treated at home easily.
When to worry: In situations when the infection persists beyond 2 weeks or if symptoms are getting worse, there is a high likelihood that the cause is much severe (like pneumonia, sore throat, sinusitis and bronchitis). Do not delay in such cases and immediately consult your doctor.
How to Reduce Fever During Pregnancy
Consult your health care provider or midwife. If they establish that your condition is not harmful to yourself or the baby, continue with the following suggestions.
Place a cool, wet washcloth over your forehead and/or the back of your neck. You may also alternate the cloth between your forehead and back of the neck. Re-wet as necessary.
Avoid overdressing. A single layer of light, breathable fabric such as cotton will allow for proper air circulation. If you get a chill, try covering with a light sheet.
Turn on an overhead or standing fan and rest within the area of the fan’s circulation.
Take a lukewarm bath or sponge bath. Do not use cold water. The evaporation of the water off your skin is what lowers your fever, not the temperature of the water itself.
Stay indoors if possible. If you are outside, be sure to stay in the shade and off your feet.
Stay hydrated. Cool, non-carbonated liquids such as juice, electrolyte replacement or water-based flavored drinks like lemonade will help lower your body temperature as well as replenish lost electrolytes and glucose.
Try a cool fruit smoothie. Your elevated heat burns extra calories as well as bodily fluids. Smoothies are beneficial for replacing those calories and keeping you more comfortable.
- If you are vomiting, avoid food until the fever passes.
Take acetaminophen if you feel comfortable doing so and your health care provider says it is safe. Aspirin or Ibuprofen are not recommended for reducing fever during pregnancy, unless directed by your health care provider.
Get plenty of rest. Not only will inactivity help keep your body cool, it also reduces the risk of stumbling or falling due to dizziness or feeling faint.
Look for alternate treatments to help with any symptoms that may accompany your fever, making you feel more comfortable. Stress and discomfort can often elevate your body temperature. Saline nose spray may help with the discomfort of nasal congestion. Vitamin C drops may alleviate a sore throat. Cranberry juice can help ease the irritation of urinary tract infections.
Does Fever During Pregnancy Hurt Your Baby?
Running a fever over an extended period of time in the first and early second trimesters can hamper the growth of your baby, leading to various birth defects including central nervous system or neural tube defects, cataracts, heart anomalies, micrencephaly (abnormally small braincase) and abdominal wall defects.
Extremely high temperature within the first month of pregnancy is sometimes associated with higher chances of miscarriage.
According to some studies, a long-running fever any time in pregnancy can increase the risks of autism and developmental delay. However, having a mild fever in the third trimester does not usually affect the baby unless it is caused by some serious condition.