You expected swollen ankles. You expected morning sickness. You even expected that you might lose your hearing. What you didn’t expect was that your nose would be so stuffy and runny when you became pregnant. Is that common? What’s causing it?

Why does pregnancy make my nose stuffy?

Kenneth Compton, MD

What you’re experiencing is called pregnancy rhinitis, a condition that can affect more than 40 percent of pregnant women. Symptoms include sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose. While women can get it any time during their pregnancy, pregnancy rhinitis most often manifests itself either very early or very late in the pregnancy.

There are several possible reasons pregnancy might make breathing difficult. First, increased blood flow might cause the blood vessels in your nose swell. Second, your increased estrogen levels can cause your nasal passage linings to swell, CEENTA ENT doctor Kenneth Compton, MD, said.

Is pregnancy rhinitis harmful?

Fortunately, pregnancy rhinitis is more of a nuisance than anything else. The runny nose and stuffiness are as aggravating as they are when caused by allergies. That said, your stuffy and runny nose might not be caused just by pregnancy rhinitis. You could also have allergies, a cold, or a sinus infection. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you start experiencing rhinitis symptoms, especially if they are accompanied by a fever, a headache, facial pressure, or green or yellow mucus.

How do I get rid of pregnancy rhinitis?

You won’t be able to make the rhinitis go away on its own, so the best thing to do is address the symptoms. Nasal irrigation and nasal strips can open your passageways and help you breathe easier. Do not use nasal decongestants, though, as they are not safe to use when pregnant.

Drinking lots of water can help. Running a humidifier can help make the air in your home, and thus your nasal cavities, moist. Hot showers can help with this, too.

Try to avoid anything that might aggravate your nose further, like cigarette smoke. If you have allergies, try to avoid whatever triggers them.

Elevating your head at night might help you breathe easier and thus get a full, restful night of sleep.

Fortunately, pregnancy rhinitis symptoms usually disappear within two weeks of your baby’s birth, so instead of concentrating on breathing, you can spend your time focusing on the new love of your life.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Compton practices in our SouthPark and Pineville offices. Are you looking for an ENT doctor for you or any members of your family? Call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.

 


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