There are a number of different reasons why you may have a sore throat while you're pregnant, and the cause of a sore throat will determine how it's treated. Your doctor will decide if you need a prescribed or over-the-counter medication, however, there are a few natural remedies that can help provide relief as well.
Potential Causes of a Sore Throat When Pregnant
The most common reason for a sore throat is due to a viral infection (the common cold), however, there are other reasons why you may come down with a sore throat while pregnant which include:
When you are pregnant, you are susceptible to strep throat just as much as when you're not pregnant. Strep throat is caused by a streptococcal (strep) bacterial infection in the throat. Your throat and tonsils become irritated, swollen and raw causing a sudden and intense sore throat. A few other symptoms associated with strep throat include fever, fatigue, headache, trouble swallowing and white spots in the back of your throat. Your doctor will give you a 'strep test' and if it's positive you will need antibiotics and plenty of rest.
Allergies and Post-Nasal Drip
The most common cause of an allergy-induced sore throat when you're pregnant is postnasal drip. This is when congestion from the sinuses drain down the throat and cause irritation and a scratchy sensation. Other symptoms include the feeling you cannot clear your throat and coughing. To comfort your sore throat, you can gargle with salt water (1/4 tsp salt to 8 oz of water) and to help alleviate postnatal drip you can try a saline nasal spray, a neti pot for nasal irrigation, a humidifier and try to avoid any potential allergy triggers.
When you're pregnant, acid reflux is a fairly common occurrence. Acid reflux is stomach acid that travels back up the esophagus. When this happens, it can cause a burning sensation in the throat which causes pain and discomfort especially after eating. Other symptoms include burping, hot pain, regurgitation of acid and nausea. For immediate relief of acid reflux, over-the-counter antacids such as Tums are considered safe to take during pregnancy. There are pills you can take as well but always check with your doctor first.
There is an increased risk of snoring while pregnant especially in the third trimester. Snoring may happen due to nasal congestion or the growing pregnant belly pressing up against the diaphragm. The snoring is often loud and harsh and can cause you to wake up with a sore throat. A few things you can try to help prevent snoring include elevating your head and neck with extra pillows, sleeping on your left side or a nasal strip may do the trick.
There are a number of irritants, pollutants, and chemicals in the environment that may be the source of your sore throat. Your throat could be agitated from dry air, dust, smoke, chemicals or other allergens. While pregnant, it is best to avoid the cause of the irritant and if you have a dry home, you can try to add moisture to the air with a humidifier.
The fluctuating pregnancy hormones in your body may also cause you to experience a sore throat as well. This may be accompanied by excessive thirst and dry mouth. There are ways to soothe your throat by using lozenges, gargling or drinking decaffeinated teas.
When You Should See the Doctor
Typically, you don't have to rush to the doctor at the initial onset of a sore throat while pregnant. However, you should contact your doctor if you do have the following symptoms:
- If your sore throat is accompanied by a fever of over 100 degrees.
- If you have a sore throat for more than two days.
- If you notice a rash on your body.
- If you are having difficulty swallowing due to swelling or pain.
- If you suspect the flu.
- If you have vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- If you are experiencing shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing.
- If you are dizzy or lightheaded.
- If you notice a decrease in fetal movement.
There are plenty of options for soothing a sore throat. Before taking any over-the-counter medication, check with your doctor to make sure it is safe to take while pregnant. The following is a list of some of the safe medications you can take and a few natural remedies as well:
Some of the safe medications you can take include:
- Tylenol (acetaminophen)
- Saline nose spray
- Lozenges, cough drops or cough syrup
- Chloraseptic throat spray
- Tums or Mylanta
Some natural remedies you can try include:
- Saltwater gargle
- Hot water mixed with lemon and honey
- Steam inhalation
- Decaffeinated teas such as honey lemon tea, camomile tea, and ginger tea
Rest Is Best
You will need plenty of rest when you're pregnant and sick with a sore throat. By letting your body rest and recover, this will give your immune system a boost and allow it to better fight off any virus or bacteria that is the source of your sore throat. Eating right is also very important. A little chicken soup would do the body good as well.