July 20, 2024

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6 Home Remedies To Treat Strep/ Sore Throat During Pregnancy

Sore throat or throat pain during pregnancy is common. Sore throat, also known as pharyngitis, is the irritation and pain in the throat that can be felt while swallowing or talking. During pregnancy, the body’s immune system usually becomes less efficient in supporting the developing fetus, making it prone to bacterial and viral infections (1). On the other hand, sore throat might also be caused due to heartburniA common discomfort caused by acid reflux, distinguished by a burning sensation in the chest and throat. or allergies (2). The primary cause of pharyngitis is considered to be viral infections such as cold and flu (3). Keep reading this post for more information on the sore throat in expecting mothers, its causes, signs, treatment, and precautions.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Sore Throat Infection During Pregnancy?

A sore throat infection may be accompanied by an earache

Image: IStock

Symptoms that accompany a sore throat include:

  • Redness of throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Constant pain in the throat
  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Red, swollen tonsils such as in tonsilitis
  • Hoarseness

You may not have all the symptoms at a time, but a combination of these. Talk to your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than seven days (3).

What Causes A Sore Throat During Pregnancy?

Sore throat during pregnancy might be because of the following reasons.

  • Acid reflux or GERD
  • Allergies (dust and pollen)
  • Muscle strain in the throat (talking loudly, talking continuously without rest)
  • Chemicals or pollutants
  • Fungal infection
  • Throat infection spreading through a cough or sneeze
  • SinusitisiAn inflammation of the sinuses, often causing symptoms such as facial pain, congestion, and headache.

Dr. Francisco Arredondo, chief medical officer at pozitivf in Texas, says, “Sore throat is more common during pregnancy due to a slightly reduced immune system. So, you are prone to infectious sore throat and sore throat from post-nasal-drip due to common colds. You can also have an increase in the non-infectious sore throat from acid reflux and heartburn, as stomach acid can generate inflammation in the throat.”

Usually, the symptoms of sore throat subside within a week and may not need medications for it. Using a few home remedies could help you reduce the intensity of the symptoms of a sore throat.

6 Home Remedies For Throat Infection During Pregnancy

I’m pregnant and have a sore throat, what can I take? This question might pop up in your mind, but with a few home remedies, you can get relief from sore throat during pregnancy. Some of these are found in your kitchen. Here is a list of remedies you could consider trying to relieve sore throat during pregnancy.

1. Honey lemon tea

Honey might help in soothing the throat, and lemon could combat bacteria and clear the mucus (4).

How to prepare:

  • Boil a cup of water
  • Add honey and lemon juice to it
  • Let it cool down and drink

2. Steam inhalation or humidifier

Steam inhalation may relieve a throat infection

Image: Shutterstock

Steam inhalation moistens your mucous membrane and could offer relief from a dry throat. You can also use a humidifier in your room to keep the air moist. Make sure you clean the humidifier from time to time to prevent bacteria growth (5).

How to use:

  • Boil water in a large pot
  • Breathe in the steam for some time

3. Turmeric saltwater gargle

Saltwater could help in hydrating the throat membranes and soothes the irritation. Turmeric is said to have a therapeutic effect on cough (4).

How to use:

  • Add half a teaspoon of salt and turmeric powder to one cup of warm water
  • Gargle in every hour to get relief from the pain

4. Chamomile tea

According to the National Institute of Health’s manuscript, chamomile tea infusion could be used to wash or gargle an inflamed throat (6).

How to prepare:

  • Boil a cup of water
  • Add a chamomile tea bag to the boiling water and steep it for five minutes
  • Strain it and gargle.

5. Ginger tea

Ginger tea helps reduce throat inflammation

Image: IStock

Ginger has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It might help in reducing the inflammation of the throat (4).

How to prepare:

  • Boil a cup of water and add about an inch of peeled fresh ginger
  • Steep it for five minutes. Add honey for sweetness and drink the tea
  • You may add fresh mint leaves for a soothing effect
protip_icon Quick tip
Sucking on hard candy can help reduce throat irritation as it keeps the saliva flowing (14).

If a sore throat is severe and home remedies are not working, then you might need some medications.

When To See A Doctor

A viral sore throat infection might subside within a week. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, then it is best to seek a doctor’s advice.

  • If the sore throat lasts for more than a week.
  • You have developed a fever along with the sore throat.
  • The sore throat developed suddenly, and you find it difficult to swallow.
  • The home remedies don’t seem to work.

Dr. Arredondo recommends, “For pain and discomfort, pregnant women can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) with a limit of two extra strength pills up to three times per day (not to exceed 3000mg in 24 hours). If the cause is allergies or post-nasal-drip, Benadryl can help stop the dripping. Candies and sprays with benzocaine are also safe during pregnancy and can help with symptoms.”

Your doctor would examine your symptoms and recommend additional tests to check for a strep throat infection, which might need antibiotic medication.

How Is Sore Throat Different From Strep Throat?

A strep throat may cause stomach ache

Image: Shutterstock

Strep throat is a severe form of a sore throat caused by Group A streptococcal bacteria, which is highly contagious (7). A strep throat has these symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Red throat
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands or tender lymph nodesiSmall, bean-shaped structures that help the body fight infection and disease by filtering lymph fluid. in the neck
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pus on tonsils
  • Stomach ache
  • Red, sandpaper-like rash

A sore throat infection need not always be a streptococcal infection Your doctor will make a proper diagnosis to determine if you have a strep throat. It might require a doctor visit, who may then prescribe medications to reduce the bacterial infection.

Medications For Sore Throat And Strep Throat While Pregnant

If the pain due to an upper respiratory tract infection, such as a throat infection, is persistent, then you must visit a doctor. They would prescribe medication based on your condition. Here are some of the commonly used drugs for sore throat, but you should not use them unless your doctor recommends them.

Safe medications for a sore throat

Over-the-counter medication (8) Medicine form
Cepacol Sore throat spray
Sucrets lozenges (dyclonine hydrochloride)
Chloraseptic (Not to take for more than two days) lozenges (benzocaine) or spray (phenol)
Halls or Robitussin lozenges (menthol)
Vicks lozenges with honey (dextromethorphan hydrobromide)

Safe medication for strep throat (usually antibiotics are prescribed)

These antibiotics cannot be used to treat a sore throat that is caused due to viral infections.

Antibiotics FDA Pregnancy category Risk during pregnancy
Cephalexin (9) B Safety in pregnant women is not established, hence it should be used only when needed.
Penicillin (10) B Safety in pregnant women is not established, hence it should be used only when needed. (Avoid if you are allergic to penicillin)
Amoxicillin (11) B Safety in pregnant women is not established, hence it should be used only when needed.

Note: Any negligence while taking the antibiotics dose during treatment can lead to recurrent infections. It is best to follow your doctor’s advice.

protip_icon Point to consider
You can take Tylenol (acetaminophen) to reduce pain associated with sore throat within a limit of 3,000mg in 24 hours (14).

Can You Prevent Sore Throat/Strep Throat Infections?

Wash your hands regularly with soap to prevent throat infections

Image: IStock

You need to be careful when you are pregnant to protect yourself from viral or bacterial infections. Here are a few tips that might help.

  • Keep your hands clean and wash them regularly with soap.
  • Do not share utensils, towels, or cups with a person who has a throat infection, as you may contract it.
  • Avoid cold and fizzy drinks when you have a throat infection. These drinks can aggravate the condition.
  • Relish on a healthy diet. Stick to foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Use masks, especially in crowded places, during viral infection epidemics.
protip_icon Experts say
The US CDC recommends people with strep throat should stay home until the fever resolves and take antibiotics for at least 12 hours (15).

A Little More On Strep Throat

In addition to the symptoms and medication, you might want to know the answers to these questions on strep throat:

1. Is strep throat dangerous during pregnancy?

Strep throat in pregnancy is not dangerous if you take timely treatment and medication. If you notice any symptoms, then check with the doctor, who can guide you with treatment. In severe cases, a strep throat can damage heart valves and kidneys (12).

2. Are strep throat and Group B streptococcus infection the same?

No. A strep throat is caused by Group A streptococcus bacteria, whereas Group B streptococcus bacteria are found in the rectal and vaginal area. Group B bacteria can pass the infection from the mother to the baby through the amniotic fluid (13). Group A Streptococcal infection has no harm for the fetus.

Is Sore Throat An Early Sign Of Pregnancy?

There is no scientific evidence to prove, but the changes in estrogeniA hormone that significantly contributes to the formation of the female reproductive system and influences bone strength and mood. and progesteroneiA hormone that plays a crucial role in pregnancy, regulating menstrual cycles and preparing the uterus for implantation hormones might result in a sore throat, along with other effects such as nausea and headaches.

However, a sore throat can’t be the standalone symptom of pregnancy and needs to be seen in association with other signs of pregnancy. Moreover, not all pregnant women would have a sore throat.

1. How can I cure a sore throat overnight at home?

There is not enough evidence on remedies that cures a sore throat overnight. Certain home remedies, on the other hand, can help provide relief faster than usual. Turmeric, honey and lemon water, and ginger crushed in boiled water are a few home remedies that you may try to find relief from a sore throat (4).

2. How long do sore throats last in pregnancy?

Sore throats, either during pregnancy or otherwise, last for around 5-7 days. Upon the administration of medicines, the symptoms can subside. It is advised that you consult a doctor for diagnosis and pregnancy-safe medications (5).

3. Can a throat infection hurt my unborn baby?

A throat infection, or pharyngitis, is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the throat. It is generally not considered to be a significant risk to an unborn baby. However, it is important to note that if a pregnant woman has a severe infection or high fever, it could cause dehydration and affect her own. It is advised to always consult with their healthcare provider if they have any concerns about their health during pregnancy, including a throat infection or high fever (14).

Throat pain during pregnancy is usually not a cause for concern and does not harm the mother or the baby. Sore throat is primarily caused by viral infections such as cold and flu and might also be caused due to allergies or heartburn. However, if the sore throat makes it difficult to swallow food, you must consult a doctor for timely medication. You can also consider some home remedies to get relief from the infection. Also, take foods rich in vitamins and minerals since healthy eating is important during pregnancy.

Infographic: How Is A Sore Throat Different From Strep Throat?

It is common to experience signs of sore throat during pregnancy. However, you should also be aware of the strep throat symptoms so you can differentiate between the two. To help you with the same, we have prepared the following infographic that lists the difference between sore throat and strep throat symptoms. Read on to know more.

sore throat vs. strep throat (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • The prevalence of sore throat increases during pregnancy due to reduced immunity.
  • Other symptoms of the condition include inflamed tonsils, redness, swallowing discomfort, ear pain, and hoarseness.
  • Home remedies such as honey-lemon tea, ginger tea, steam therapy, humidifiers, and salt water gargling can alleviate symptoms.
  • If the sore throat persists beyond a week and is accompanied by difficulty swallowing or a fever, seek medical attention.
throat pain during pregnancy_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

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Dr. Burcu Saygan Karamürsel
Burcu Saygan Karamürsel is a board certified obstetrics – gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine specialist with 22 years of experience. She is currently working in Ankara,Turkey. A graduate from Hacettepe University Medical School, she has also attended a fellowship programme at Bonn University Hospital, Perinatology Department.

Read full bio of Dr. Burcu Saygan Karamürsel