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Why do I feel congested all the time?
How can I tell if my congestion is due to my pregnancy or to something else?
What can I do for relief?
Are there any medications I can take?
Why do I feel congested all the time?

Believe it or not, it's pretty common to have a runny or stuffed-up nose during pregnancy. Up to 30 percent of pregnant women have congestion without having allergies or a viral infection like the common cold. This condition even has a name: rhinitis of pregnancy.
It can start as early as your second month and tends to worsen later in pregnancy. The congestion should ease up soon after you give birth and be gone completely within two weeks after delivery.
Higher amounts of estrogen during pregnancy can contribute to swelling in the mucous membranes lining the nose and even cause you to make more mucus. What's more, the amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy, which may cause swelling in the tiny blood vessels in the lining of your nose and congestion in the surrounding tissue. Other hormones may also play a role.

How can I tell if my congestion is due to my pregnancy or to something else?
If you have no other symptoms, it's probably rhinitis of pregnancy. If your stuffy nose is accompanied by sneezing, coughing, a sore throat, mild aches and pains, or possibly swollen glands or a fever, you probably do have a cold or another infection.
By the way, sinus infections are more common in pregnancy. If you have symptoms of sinusitis, such as fever, headache, green or yellow mucus, facial pain or pressure (which may feel worse when you bend forward), an upper jaw ache, or a decreased sense of smell, call your caregiver.
On the other hand, if you have a stuffy or runny nose with watery mucus, along with sneezing and itchy eyes, nose, throat, or ears, then allergies are a likely culprit.

Allergies during pregnancy are unpredictable: They may improve or get worse, or you may find that you're sensitive to allergens and other irritants that never bothered you before.
Of course, you won't always be able to tell what's causing your congestion, and it's possible that there's more than one cause. For example, you could be suffering from allergies as well as rhinitis of pregnancy.

What can I do for relief?
Drink plenty of fluids and keep your head elevated at night. These measures can also be helpful:
Steam can temporarily relieve congestion and it's often very soothing. Take a warm shower and hang out for a while afterward in the steamy bathroom. Or moisten a washcloth with hot water, hold it up to your face, and breathe.
Try saline nose drops or a buffered saline nasal spray, available over the counter at the drugstore. Spritz or drip a bit into each nostril and within five or ten minutes you should be able to blow your nose more easily.
Use a humidifier or vaporizer to put more moisture into the air and keep it near your head at night. Be sure to follow the cleaning instructions that came with your humidifier.

Change the water daily since it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. You'll need to replace the filter often as well.
Use extra pillows to elevate your head when lying down to rest or sleep. (This can help relieve heartburn, too.)
Exercise sometimes helps to ease a stuffy nose. Avoid exercising outdoors on days when there's a lot of air pollution, which may irritate your nasal passages and make your congestion worse.
Avoid potential irritants, such as cigarette smoke, alcohol, paint and chemical fumes (all of which you should be avoiding anyway!), as well as anything that triggers your symptoms.

Are there any medications I can take?
If your congestion continues to make you miserable, tell your practitioner about your symptoms and ask which medications are safe for you to try. It's generally best to avoid taking any medications during your first trimester, when your baby's organs are forming, unless it's really necessary (for example, to control asthma) and has been prescribed by your caregiver.
If your practitioner says it's okay, you can try a decongestant. Avoid overusing decongestant nasal sprays, though, because they can cause rebound inflammation and make your congestion much worse.  presented by dr. H. Sjahruddin SpTHT-KL

(ENT Specialist at Brawijaya Women and Children Hospital)