The common cold spares no one. Not even pregnant women, unfortunately. So when expectant mums get the sniffles, when is it time to worry? After all, having a cold can't be good for the baby. Nazatul Amira Hamzah, Pharmacist and Key Account Manager at Primabumi Sdn Bhd We had a chat with Nazatul Amira Hamzah from Primabumi Sdn Bhd, qualified pharmacist with 10 years of pharmaceutical experience to get her expert knowledge on treating pregnant or breastfeeding mums with a cold. Q1: What does a common cold mean? A common cold refers to a mild infection of your respiratory tract, which includes your throat, nose, sinuses, airways and lungs. Adults usually have an average of 2 to 3 colds per year. However, children may experience common colds more frequently due to their relatively weaker immune systems. Q2: What causes common colds? There are more than 200 kinds of viruses that can give you a cold, but the ones called rhinoviruses are the most common troublemakers. These viruses are very good at spreading and can jump from one person to another when they're close or even just through the air. Q3: What are the symptoms of common colds? You might have a common cold if you suffer from one or more of these symptoms: \tA runny or blocked nose \tSneezing \tSore throat \tCoughs \tMild fever \tMild muscle aches \tMild headache \tLoss or altered sense of taste and smell Q4: How long does a common cold last? Typically, when you catch a cold, the signs of the illness like a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and feeling generally unwell, stick around for about 5 to 7 days. However, in some cases, these symptoms can linger and bother you for up to approximately two weeks. So, while you might start feeling better after a week, it's not unusual for a cold to hang around a bit longer, making you feel under the weather for up to two weeks in total. Q5: Are common colds during pregnancy and breastfeeding dangerous? Most regular colds aren't too serious. They will usually go away on their own. However, it's really important for mums who are pregnant or breastfeeding to take care of themselves if their cold also comes with other symptoms like fever. When this happens it's important to make sure they stay hydrated. Having a fever for a long time or not drinking enough water can be risky for both your health and your baby's health. So, it's a good idea to pay attention to these things. Q6: Is it true that many medicines for colds are harmful to unborn and breastfed babies? Pregnant and breastfeeding women have limited options when it comes to medicines because there isn't enough data on their safety. In Malaysia and around the world, doctors refer to the FDA's guidance to decide if a medication is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They classify drugs into five categories, A, B, C, D, and X. Category A is the safest, with no known risks to the baby. As you move to B, C, and D, the safety evidence gets less certain, so doctors have to think about the benefits versus the risks. Category X drugs are a no-go for pregnant mums. But don't worry, there are safe cold medicines available for you if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Just talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find the right one for you. Q7: I'm pregnant and I'm having a fever and a slight body ache. Which medicine is safe for me to take? During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the safest option for treating fever and pain is paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen). It's been studied, and it hasn't shown any increased risk of pregnancy problems or birth defects. You can take 2 tablets of 500mg each every 4-6 hours, but don't take more than 8 tablets in a day. Be careful not to choose medicines that mix paracetamol with other drugs unless your doctor says so. Also, stay away from fizzy or fast-acting paracetamol because they can have a lot of salt. There are other drugs called NSAIDs that can help with fever and pain, but they're not recommended during pregnancy, unless your doctor says it's okay. However, nursing mums can use ibuprofen and diclofenac, which are both NSAIDs, because they pass into breast milk in very tiny amounts. To be sure about what's right for you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to manage your symptoms safely. Q8: Apart from paracetamol, what medicines for common colds are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mums? The table shows safe treatments for pregnant and breastfeeding mums and what they're used for. Medicine Category Drug Name(s) Indication(s) Antihistamines Chlorpheniramine Diphenhydramine Loratadine Cetirizine Runny nose Sneezing Allergy-induced coughing *Topical nasal decongestants (sprays or drops) Oxymetazoline Xylometazoline Blocked nose Cough suppressants Dextromethorphan Dry, persistent cough (without phlegm) Mucolytics Guaifenesin Bromhexine Chesty cough (with phlegm) These treatments aren't usually advised in the first three months of pregnancy and should not be used for more than 5 days because they can make congestion worse when you stop. Be sure to stick to the right dosage, and if you're still sick, talk to your doctor. Q9: Can antibiotics help with colds? No, antibiotics only work against bacterial infections, and colds are usually caused by viruses. Taking antibiotics when you don't need them can be harmful to you and your baby. Q10: What are other approaches I can take to\u00a0 ease my symptoms while minimising risks to my baby? \tSleep and rest a lot to help your body fight the infection \tDrink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated \tGargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat and cough \tUse saline or sea salt sprays to clear a stuffy nose and reduce sneezing \tRun a humidifier or steam machine to make it easier to breathe Source: Nazatul Amira Hamzah, Pharmacist at Primabumi Sdn Bhd Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!