Medicines for cough and sore throat in pregnancy

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Catherine Le Nevez
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During the winter it is very common to have symptoms such as cough, sore throat and cold.

Although when expecting a baby one usually pays close attention to avoid any kind of contagion, with the first cold, the sudden changes in temperature and the viruses typical of the winter season, even future mothers happen to get sick. If the discomfort caused by a sore throat or cough is excessive, some can be used drugs, but attention to do it yourself: Not all medicines can be used during pregnancy and it is always a good idea to seek advice from your doctor. So let's see what are the possible remedies for cough and sore throat in pregnancy thanks to the advice of Clavenna, head of the Pharmacoepidemiology Unit of the Laboratory for Maternal and Child Health of the Mario Negri Institute in our city.

In this article

  • Cough and sore throat, what are the causes?
  • Paracetamol as a first choice
  • Aspirin yes, but with caution
  • Candies and balsamic sprays
  • Propolis and other natural remedies

Cough and sore throat, what are the possible causes?

Il sore throat (or pharyngitis) is an inflammation of the oral cavity that can have various causes including:

  • exposure to cold air;
  • too dry air in the house;
  • pollution;
  • viral diseases as in the case of influenza viruses, cold viruses or Covid-19;
  • bacterial infections, although they are less frequent.

La coughinstead, it is a defense mechanism physiological of our respiratory system to keep the airways clear, but it can turn into a very annoying symptom. In most cases, like sore throat, it is due to viral diseases typical of the cold season including colds, flu and even the infamous Covid-19.

If the cough and sore throat cause too much discomfort to the expectant mother, you can consider taking a drug or try some home remedy.

Read also: Covid-19 and pregnancy, prevention measures

Paracetamol as a first choice

As highlighted in the Ministry of Health Guidelines for Physiological Pregnancy, it is necessary during gestation be very careful with medications because some of these could be dangerous for the development and survival of the fetus. However, if the discomfort caused by a sore throat or cough is very intense, then the paracetamol which, in addition to being the most effective active ingredient for lowering any fever, also exerts aanalgesic action, thus relieving the pain.

In pregnancy paracetamol results the safest choice, although obviously it must be taken according to the dosage recommended in the package leaflet. "And if after 3-4 days of therapy there is no improvement of the symptoms, it is better to consult the doctor" advises Clavenna.

Read also: Paracetamol in pregnancy: is it true that it is bad for male fetuses?

Aspirin yes, but with caution

If desired, aspirin can also be taken, but for extreme caution it is best avoid it in the first trimester of gestation because as the expert reports "according to some studies, yet to be definitively confirmed, aspirin could increase the risk of spontaneous abortion".

Indeed, in recent years some studies have been published that have tried to investigate the relationship between anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of miscarriage, such as this research published in The British Medical Journal, but for now the evidence is not enough.

Also, like all other NSAIDs, i.e. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen or diclofenac, aspirin must be absolutely avoided after the 30th week gestation because it could cause the closure of the Botallo duct, a fundamental vessel for fetal blood circulation.

Read also: Aspirin and aspirin in pregnancy

Candies and balsamic sprays

For sore throats, mothers-to-be can also use some spray with balsamic action which give some relief. To soothe the cough, however, can be useful candies to buy at the pharmacy. In truth their effectiveness is rather limited, but if they give relief, they can be used once in a while: their absorption is limited and should not cause problems for the fetus. In any case, it is always good to inform the pharmacist of your pregnancy, so as to be sure to buy a product that is not dangerous for the fetus.

Read also: pregnancy

Propolis and other natural remedies

Propolis is famous for being one of the most effective remedies for sore throats and is often recommended by doctors and pharmacists. In pregnancy, however, the expert claims that it is better to avoid its use, since you do not yet fully know the effects on the fetus and therefore we do not know if it is completely harmless. "Among other things - underlines Clavenna - propolis is often formulated in alcohol solution, which could then pass to the fetus ".

Let's make a small clarification: the fact that there are no definitive data on its efficacy and safety in pregnancy does not mean that it necessarily hurts, but that there is no scientific basis to recommend it. If you have ever used it, you can still rest assured.

Yes, instead, to others "home remedies" such as herbal teas and tea with lemon e honey which are excellent for calming throat irritation, always being careful not to overdo it with honey because it is still a sweetener with a lot of sugar. Gods can also be done to relieve symptoms of sore throat garglingwith water and salt or with lemon without swallowing or gods fumenti/suffumigi with very hot water and a few drops of essential oil. Other very useful remedies can be nasal washes and aerosol with physiological solution, but also humidify the air at home can provide temporary relief.

Instead, pay attention to other substances that, although natural, could be harmful to the baby. For this reason it is always best to consult your doctor.

And, finally, for all future mothers who have some typical symptoms of the cold season, the advice is to rest to help the body recover more quickly.

Useful Numbers

If you have doubts about the use of a medicine during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you can contact these numbers:

Information service on the use of drugs in pregnancy and lactation of the Clinical Toxicology Center of the Pope John XXIII Hospital of the city - Toll-free number 800883300. Active 24 hours a day.


Red telephone number of the Study Center for the protection of the health of the mother and of the unborn child Gemelli Polyclinic of the city - 06/3050077. It is active on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9.00 to 13.00 and on Tuesday and Thursday from 14.30 to 18.30.


Red thread of the Malformation Study Association (ASM), which has three offices:

  • our city - 02/8910207. Active Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10.30 to 13.30, and Thursdays from 14.00 to 17.00;
  • of the city - 06/5800897. Active Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 14.00 pm to 17.00 pm and Thursday from 10.00 am to 13.00 pm;
  • Madrid - 081/5463881. Active Monday and Thursday from 15.00 to 18.30


AIFA toll-free number on efficacy, safety and availability of drugs - 800571661. Active from Monday to Friday (excluding holidays), from 9.00 to 13.00 and from 14.00 to 16.00. You can also consult the AIFA Medicines and Pregnancy institutional website, choosing whether to consult the list of active ingredients or that of diseases.

  • cough pregnancy
  • sore throat pregnancy
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