What It Means If You Have Flu-Like Symptoms In Early Pregnancy

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What it means if you have flu-like symptoms in early pregnancy
Self, Health And Wellness

Should you seek help?

Flu-like symptoms are never fun, but when they happen in early pregnancy, a time when women are already feeling fatigued and exhausted, it can be overwhelming. And it may not even be that you have the flu during pregnancy; in fact, there are other causes.

An added complication is that pregnant women can't take as many medications as women who are not pregnant, which means they are short on lists of remedies if it is the flu (and short on energy to recover fast). But is it the flu? Or does pregnancy have symptoms that just appear to be the flu?

According to medical experts, it can be just that. Early pregnancy symptoms are similar to flu-like symptoms. Some women feel achy in the early stages of pregnancy. For example, queasiness and fatigue are common early on.

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But what are the other causes of your symptoms? We asked experts to weigh in on what's causing your sickness, and when you should start to worry about potential complications.

1. Exhaustion

Your body is going through a lot, after all.

According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor and member of Vagisil’s new Vaginal and Sexual Health Education Council, “We really do not know exactly why... I do tell my patients when they feel fatigued to think of it as 'sleeping for two.'”

2. Lower immune system

Pregnancy is a time of altered immune status, and pregnancy can increase risk to acquire infectious diseases such as the flu.

“If you are pregnant and feel flu-like, be sure to get checked for infection. Anything anyone can catch can affect a pregnant woman. You could have the flu, a cold, mono, hepatitis, or other infection,” warns Felice Gersh, MD, author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist's Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness.

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3. Nausea

Sure, we equate nausea with the flu, but it's also a natural part of morning sickness. If you are feeling nausous, there's a fair chance it's due to your pregnancy and the flu isn't to blame.

4. Headaches

We often get achy when we have the flu, but headaches are also a common, normal part of early pregnancy. It's related to an increase in blood volume, but if the headaches are too intense or too regular, it's something you should discuss with your doctor just to be safe.

The good news is that the fatigue and queasiness usually do resolve soon, and by the end of the first trimester for almost everyone. However, as Dr. Minkin says, “If you do feel persistently flu-like, especially if you have a fever, check in with your OB/provider, because the real flu can be serious during pregnancy.”

There are also medications that can help, as anti-viral flu medication is safe to take during pregnancy. “Of course, we do encourage all of our pregnant women to take the flu vaccine during pregnancy, to minimize your chances of being sick,” Dr. Minkin advises.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at alywalansky@gmail.com.