Sinusitis in Pregnancy – What can be done?

Pregnant woman with sinusitis
During pregnancy primarily softer methods present themselves for the treatment of sinusitis. But you also do not have to abstain from medication treatments.

How to treat blocked sinuses during pregnancy

Approximately 20% of all women experience swelling of the mucous membranes during pregnancy. Sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) is not an uncommon result of pregnancy rhinitis. How then can the symptoms of sinusitis be treated without endangering the baby?

What is allowed with sinusitis when pregnant?

Many mothers-to-be with an inflammation of the sinuses are faced with a difficult decision: What can I do to fight the symptoms of a respiratory illness without endangering my baby? In view of the above many pregnant woman fear harmful side effects from the typical sinusitis medication such as antibiotics and decongestant nose sprays.

The side effects of medication stand opposed to the serious risks of an insufficient treatment. Thus, for example, the risk of a miscarriage increases with an untreated sinusitis during pregnancy. Simply waiting out the sinusitis, without therapy, is therefore not a sensible alternative.

Sinusitis Treatment without Medication

In order to avoid the side effects of medication many pregnant women fall back on home remedies against blocked sinuses. Herbal teas, steam inhalation or infrared lights are actually advisable for sinusitis, because they are beneficial and can accelerate the healing process – even during pregnancy.

In addition physical training with PEP devices which through vibrations force open congestion and liquefy secretions is proven to help in the therapy of sinusitis. This form of therapy is especially suited for pregnant women, because it can be applied without medication or significantly reduce the need for medication.

Therapy with medication cannot however be substituted by home remedies. What, therefore, should pregnant women consider in regard to medication therapy of sinusitis?

Nasal Drops / Sprays and blocked sinuses

With an acute inflammation of the sinuses decongestive nasal sprays and drops come temporarily into use. They ensure that the mucous membranes are decongested and the formation of secretion is reduced. They are only suited, however, for five to seven day use (no more than three consecutive days), because they can, in the long run, damage the mucous membrane and become addictive.

During pregnancy decongestive nose drops are generally not to be recommended for sinusitis. Only with severe symptoms is their temporary use advisable. A long-term alternative is natural nasal sprays with dexpanthenol in order to moisten the mucous membranes without the fear of side effects. 

Antibiotics with Bacterial caused Sinusitis

Sinusitis with a bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics. A bacterial infection can be identified by persistent symptoms, which even after two weeks have not gone away. In addition bacterial infections are often accompanied by a high fever.

During pregnancy the risks of a bacterial infection caused sinusitis range up to a miscarriage and are therefore greater than the possible side effects of antibiotics. General statements are difficult to make, but as a rule bacterial infections in pregnant women should be treated with antibiotics. Penicillin, for example, can be taken without hesitation – in fact even in the first pregnancy trimester.

Which antibiotics are worthwhile and which dose is to be administered, should, however, in any case, be modulated by your treating physician.

Cortisone with Chronic Sinusitis

Cortisone containing nose sprays are first and foremost prescribed for chronic sinusitis and in connection with allergies. Their action is both decongestive and anti-inflamatory.

In small doses the side effects from cortisone sprays must not be feared by pregnant women. As a spray they are locally applied and hardly affect the entire organism. However women should avoid as much as possible the use of such sprays in the first three months of pregnancy.


One should not, in any case, during pregnancy forgo a medication therapy for sinusitis. However, small doses of medicine, as well as the support of therapy with non-medicine measures, are advisable.

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