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Cold Medicine While Pregnant: 4 Types That Are Safe to Use

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Jul 05, 2022

Cold Medicine While Pregnant: 4 Types That Are Safe to Use

Pregnant women may be prone to colds because their body’s hormonal changes tend to weaken the immune system. However, when it comes to medications, pregnant women should be more careful as even common over-the-counter drugs can pose a risk to a fetus. Here are a variety of cold medicine choices that are effective and safe to take, even for pregnant women.

You can’t just take any cold medicine while pregnant

Whatever you experience, feel, and consume during pregnancy can affect the unborn baby in the womb.

The reason is that the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is a critical period in the development of vital organs of the fetus. Taking the wrong medicine can be dangerous for the development of the fetus.

Make sure to always consult a doctor before taking any medication and whenever you feel something unusual in your body.

A safe choice of cold medicine while pregnant

cold medicine while pregnant

Depending on the symptoms and complaints you feel, here are some of the safest cold medicine while pregnant:

1. Paracetamol

Paracetamol is a pain reliever that relieves symptoms that accompany colds such as fever, headache, sore throat, and aches. It is safe for pregnant women to take. You can get this medicine at the nearest pharmacy, drug store, or supermarket without a doctor’s prescription.

Even so, make sure you take the medicine according to the recommended dosage. Read carefully the instructions for using the drug listed on the packaging before taking it.

2. Antihistamines

Antihistamine drugs such as diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine are classified as safe for treating colds in pregnant women caused by allergies.

Both diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine are also effective for clearing the nose and relieving an itchy throat, sneezing, and watery eyes. However, these two drugs can make you sleepy, so it is best to take them before bed.

Again, use this drug only if it is needed. Make sure the dose of medicine you take is in accordance with the instructions for use. If in doubt, do not hesitate to consult a doctor or pharmacist.

3. Expectorants

A cold that is also accompanied by a cough with phlegm is annoying. Well, expectorant drugs containing guaifenesin can help relieve both symptoms.

Guaifenesin works to thin and soften mucus in the respiratory tract so you can breathe easier. Guaifenesin also reduces the reflex to cough.

However, the safety of guaifenesin in pregnant women is still being debated. It is better to consult with your doctor first.

4. Saline spray

Another treatment option that is safe for pregnant women is a nasal spray filled with saline.

Saline solution works by thinning out mucus and moisturizes the respiratory tract. As the excess mucus becomes runnier, it drains more quickly and relieves a clogged or stuffy nose.

You can get this at the nearest drug store without having to use a doctor’s prescription. However, you may need to take the time to understand how to use it.

If you don’t understand how to use it, don’t hesitate to ask the pharmacist directly.

It is important to remember that colds are caused by viruses, which are typically self-limiting. This means that most cold medications you can take will only help relieve symptoms but not cure the cold itself.

If your cold symptoms are severe, you should consult your doctor who may prescribe you antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the cold.

Rules for taking cold medicine for pregnant women

cold medicine while pregnant

If doctors feel the need to recommend cold medicine, they will definitely first warn pregnant women to look at the packaging label. It is important to know what ingredients are contained in the drug and how to use it.

Many people are not aware that the cold medicine they are taking actually contains a combination of various medicinal substances at once. Most cold medicine sold in the market is a combination of various kinds of symptom relievers.

For example, in one dose of a tablet or capsule of medicine, it contains fever-reducing drugs, pain relievers, antihistamines, decongestants, and others. This can increase the risk of drug interactions, as well as the possibility of overdose.

There is also a risk of overdose if you take many different drugs at one time. An example is a common medication which combines 3 or more active ingredients for relief of cough, clogged nose, headache, and fever associated with the common cold, flu, and other minor respiratory tract infections. Common in these types of combined medication is paracetamol. If one is not aware that it is already present in the said medication, it may be possible that a person may take another separate dose of paracetamol for fever or headache. This may lead to overdose if one is not familiar with the maximum amount allowable per day

Take the drug according to the recommended dose and duration. Never prolong, stop, add, or reduce the dose of a drug carelessly.

Remember, what a mother drinks and eats can affect the fetus in her womb.

If you feel that the symptoms of a cold are very annoying and getting worse, don’t delay to consult a doctor.

Alternatives to cold medicine while pregnant

Before immediately prescribing cold medicine, doctors will usually advise pregnant women to rest first.

You may also be advised to drink more water. These two combinations of home ‘cold remedies’ are proven to be effective in relieving symptoms naturally.

While taking cold medicine and getting plenty of rest, it’s also a good idea for pregnant women to try the following things to relieve their cold symptoms.

  • Gargle with warm salt water.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Inhale hot steam.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Jul 05, 2022

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