They may have told you of the excessive hunger, mood swings, fatigue and nausea, swollen feet and aching joints, haemorrhoids, and numerous skin changes like rashes, skin pigmentation, itchy abdomen, skin tags, varicose veins, etc.
But what nobody may have mentioned, deliberately or in passing, is one very uncomfortable condition that will have you breathing through your mouth most of the time, dealing with the fatigue that comes with it, not to mention the weird looks you will be getting for assigning your mouth the job of the nose. This condition is known as pregnancy rhinitis.
What is pregnancy rhinitis?
Also known as pregnancy drip (runny or drippy nose), pregnancy rhinitis is a condition that causes nasal congestion, occurring in 18 to 42% of pregnant women. It is an extremely uncomfortable condition that can hinder you from enjoying not even your favourite meals. During pregnancy, the baby needs more blood for its protection and the body does just that. So the increased blood flow can tighten the small vessels located in the nose, plus there's an increase in the production of mucus due to oestrogen. Hence the nasal congestion and drippy nose.
According to midwife Clare Littler, "Rhinitis typically starts in the first trimester and can increase towards the end of pregnancy, as increased hormone levels affect your delicate nasal passages."
She added: "The natural boost in oestrogen and progesterone can make the blood vessels and mucous membranes inside your nose swell. Your blood volume will also be greater, to support your growing baby, which further enlarges these tiny capillaries."
Symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis
Symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis can sometimes depend on the cause of it. Whether it's an allergic reaction or just plain pregnancy rhinitis. The following are symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis.
- Drippy nose
- Nasal congestion
How do I know if my symptoms are linked to pregnancy rhinitis or something else?
Different things can be the cause of these symptoms during pregnancy. So it is important to be able to identify when symptoms are pointing to other underlying health problems. Since most pregnancy rhinitis symptoms are mild and non-threatening, this distinction will help you know when to visit a doctor. For pregnancy rhinitis, typically your symptoms will include congestion or drippy nose. But watch out to see if you have other adjoining symptoms. For example, if apart from congestion and drippy nose you have symptoms like headache, pains, fever, sore throat, and swollen glands, then it is most likely that you have a cold or another infection altogether.
However, you may be suffering from an allergic reaction if your symptoms include the drippy nose, congestion, itchy ears, eyes, or nose. And some allergic reactions you only develop them during the pregnancy. You may have never had allergies before. And that's what makes it more confusing. Plus, your symptoms can be caused by both pregnancy rhinitis and allergies. If you're confused please see your doctor.
Home treatment for pregnancy rhinitis
For this uncomfortable condition, thankfully there are a few things you could do at home.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids.
- Try a warm water shower. You should close the bathroom airtight so that you can trap the steam from your bathwater. Then linger in there. Or for a simpler version, dip a soft cloth in hot water and squeeze the water out. Take it to your face and breath in the steam. This will provide some relief.
- Double your pillow so that your head and chest are slightly elevated.
- Try saline nasal spray. It is available in drugstores in Nigeria. Drop into each nostril. This should provide relief after a short time.
- If you have a humidifier, put it on. A humidifier injects moisture into the air to prevent you from inhaling dry air. Make sure your humidifier has been cleaned and the water changed. Otherwise, you could end of injecting bacteria into the air.
- Stay away from anything that makes it worse. Things like smoking, polluted air outside your home, alcohol, chemical fumes, etc.
- Light exercises help. But do it in a controlled environment where you won't inhale polluted air that might worsen the problem.
Your symptoms may refuse to go away after those home remedies. So, what you should do is to talk to your doctor. There are some safe medications the doctor may recommend. Nasal corticosteroids can also be used to fight symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis.
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com