If you get a fever under normal circumstances, it’s not necessarily a sign that you need to worry. But when you’re pregnant, you may need to take additional precautions if you come down with a fever.
A fever is a sign that your body is fighting an infection. But recent research suggests that if you have a fever, especially early in the first trimester, it could be linked to birth defects. Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich of Weyhrich OBGYN explains what you should do if you have a fever while pregnant.
What causes fever?
A fever is an indication that your body is fighting off an infection. It’s not always a problem; under normal circumstances, you might just take a Tylenol® and wait for it to go away. But it’s a different situation when you’re pregnant. Fever is a bigger concern in obstetrics patients than in women who aren’t pregnant.
Some of the causes of fever include the following:
- Urinary tract infections
- Respiratory infections
- Influenza (though we recommend getting a flu shot as prevention)
- Food poisoning
- The common cold
- Pyelonephritis (kidney infection)
If you have a fever, you should immediately contact Dr. Weyhrich or our staff for an exam.
Other symptoms of concern
If you’re pregnant and have any of the following symptoms, along with a fever, mention them to Dr. Weyhrich.
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Neck stiffness
- Back pain
A temperature over 100.4 F warrants a call to our office. If your fever is below 100.4, continue to monitor it at home.
Ask before taking fever reducers
Most people take fever reducers to bring down their fever and feel more comfortable. However, check with Dr. Weyhrich before taking medication to reduce a fever.
A 2017 study found that getting a fever in the first trimester of pregnancy may be linked to an increased risk of certain birth defects, including cleft lip or palate. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) has been extensively studied for safety in pregnancy and is conclusively safe.
However, you should not take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®) during pregnancy.
If you have a bacterial infection
One of the reasons it’s so important to see the doctor if you develop a fever at any point in pregnancy is that you might have a bacterial infection, such as a urinary tract infection or a kidney infection.
If you have a bacterial infection, you must get on antibiotics immediately.
In addition, if you have a stomach virus or food poisoning, you will want to make sure you don’t become dehydrated, which may require hospitalization.
Taking care of your health
You need to take excellent care of your health while you’re pregnant. You can do a lot to prevent illness simply by maintaining a good habit of washing your hands and avoiding foods that cause illness, such as soft cheeses, sprouts, and honey.
Dr. Weyhrich and our staff are committed to helping you maintain your health throughout your pregnancy. Contact us today or request an appointment online.