The increased amount of hormones during pregnancy can be responsible for much more than mood swings. Stimulation of blood flow by the hormones, especially to the respiratory tract lining, can lead to nasal congestion, a runny nose and sinus infections.
A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is inflammation of the lining membrane of the sinuses and nasal passages. Sinusitis may be caused by environmental irritants, such as allergies; chemical irritants; or viral or bacterial infections.
Sinus infections are classified as either acute, subacute or chronic depending on the length of time of the infection and the specific type of inflammation, which is either infectious or noninfectious. Infectious sinusitis is caused by a viral infection while noninfectious sinusitis can be caused by allergens and irritants.
Acute sinus infections are those that last fewer than 30 days; subacute sinus infections last longer than 1 month but fewer than 3; and infections that last 3 months or longer are classified as chronic.
Symptoms of a sinus infection include headache, facial tenderness, fever, discoloured nasal discharge, nasal stuffiness, sore throat and cough. Itchy, watery eyes and sneezing may accompany sinusitis that is caused by allergies.
If the sinus infection is allergy related, an antihistamine such as Benedryl may be taken safely while pregnant. If it is a bacterial infection, penicillin-type antibiotics may be recommended by a health care professional. Women may also take acetaminophen during pregnancy as treatment for fever or pain without harming their foetus.
Pregnant women suffering from sinusitis should increase liquids to help thin mucus secretions, use a humidifier at night, inhale steam three times per day for 10 minutes each session and use saline drops in the nose to relieve nasal stuffiness. Since adequate rest is essential in healing, sleeping in a semi-upright position is recommended to make it easier.