Pregnancy Rhinitis: Relief for Ongoing Nasal Congestion Is Possible

If you're expecting a baby, you may be dealing with a stuffy nose that doesn’t seem to go away. This hassle is called pregnancy rhinitis. The cause of this condition isn’t really clear. However, it may be caused by hormonal changes.Having a history of allergies or asthma does not raise your risk of getting pregnancy rhinitis.

More than just a stuffy nose

Pregnancy rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the nose. This causes nasal congestion. Increased blood flow to the nasal passages and enlargement of the nasal veins also play a role.

Symptoms occur during pregnancy. They can last for several weeks. On top of feeling uncomfortable, your sleep may be disrupted. This is because the congestion gets worse when you lie down. This may make you to feel more tired during the day. Long-lasting congestion also can lead to complications. These can include sinusitis and ear infections.

Be cautious when seeking treatment

Many women use non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant sprays to open up their nasal passages. Know that these medicines don’t work for pregnancy rhinitis. These medicines may give you temporary relief. However, they may actually make your symptoms worse and lead to a complete nasal blockage.

How can you get relief from pregnancy rhinitis? Experts say you can breathe easy with these measures:

  • Don’t use OTC nasal decongestants. 

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Increase the humidity levels in your home. Use a humidifier.

  • Don’t use nasal irritants, such as cigarette smoke.

  • Get moving. Regular, moderate-intensity exercise can reduce congestion. It can also help you sleep better. But first, check with your healthcare provider to see what exercises are safe for you.

  • When you go to sleep, raise the head of your bed. For instance, use an extra pillow or a wedge.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about using OTC nasal strips and saline sprays or drops.

The good news? Even if you don’t do anything, you can expect your stuffy nose to clear up soon after your baby is born. It often goes away within two weeks of childbirth.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPH Foley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016

© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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