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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR PATIENT GOES HOME?

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Aug.07.2021
 Pregnancy and Influenza

Pregnancy and Influenza

Influenza, also called the flu, is an infection of the lungs and airways (respiratory tract). If you are pregnant, you are more likely to catch the flu. You are also more likely to have serious illness from the flu. This is because pregnancy causes changes to your body's disease-fighting system (immune system), heart, and lungs. If you develop serious illness from the flu, this can cause problems for you and your developing baby.

How do people get the flu?

The flu is caused by a type of germ called a virus. It spreads when virus particles get passed from person to person by:
  • Being near a sick person who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Touching something that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or face.

The influenza virus is most common during the fall and winter.

What actions can I take to protect myself against the flu?

  • Get a flu shot. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot before flu season starts. The flu shot is not dangerous for your developing baby. It may even help protect your baby from the flu for up to 6 months after birth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not come in close contact with sick people.
  • Do not share food, drinks, or utensils with other people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean frequently used surfaces at home, school, or work.
  • Practice healthy lifestyle habits, such as:
    • Eating a healthy, balanced diet.
    • Drinking plenty of fluids.
    • Exercising regularly or as told by your health care provider.
    • Sleeping 7–9 hours each night.
    • Finding ways to manage stress.

What should I do if I have flu symptoms?

  • If you have any symptoms of the flu, even after getting a flu shot, contact your health care provider right away.
  • To reduce fever, take over-the-counter acetaminophen as told by your health care provider.
  • If you have the flu, your health care provider may give you antiviral medicine to keep the flu from becoming severe and to shorten how long it lasts.
  • Avoid spreading the flu to others:
    • Stay home until you are well.
    • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
    • Wash your hands often.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider. Do not take any medicine, including cold or flu medicine, unless your health care provider tells you to do so.
  • If you were prescribed antiviral medicine, take it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop taking the antiviral medicine even if you start to feel better.
  • Eat a nutrient-rich diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Keep all follow-up visits. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have a cough, sore throat, or stuffy nose.
  • You have worsening or unusual muscle aches, headache, tiredness, or loss of appetite.
  • You have vomiting or diarrhea.

Get help right away if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You have abdominal pain.
  • You begin to have labor pains.
  • You do not feel your baby move.
  • You have diarrhea or vomiting that will not go away.
  • You have dizziness or confusion.
  • Your symptoms do not improve, even with treatment.

These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Summary

  • If you are pregnant, you are more likely to catch the flu. You are also more likely to have a more serious case of the flu.
  • If you have flu-like symptoms, call your health care provider right away. If you develop serious illness from the flu, this can cause problems for you and your developing baby.
  • The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot before flu season starts. The flu shot is safe during pregnancy and not dangerous for your developing baby.
  • If you have the flu and were prescribed antiviral medicine, take it as told by your health care provider.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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