Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Are stuffy noses common during pregnancy?"

ZocdocAnswersAre stuffy noses common during pregnancy?


I'm a woman, 31 years of age, and pregnant with my second child. I'm well into the second trimester, and my sinuses are congested every morning when I wake up, and stay that way until the afternoon. Now that it's happening, I seem to remember it from my first child, too. What causes this? Could it be a sign of a serious problem?


The evaluation of pregnancy and respiratory issues involves the evaluation of specialists such as internists, obstetricians / gynecologists, pulmonologists, allergists, and ear-nose-throat specialists. During pregnancy, there are normal changes that occur during pregnancy. In the upper airway system (around the nose) there is increased blood flow, swelling, cellular activity, and certain types of mucus. This can cause pregnant women to have nasal congestion and sometimes nose bleeds. Approximately 20 to 30% of women develop this during pregnancy and this is called pregnancy rhinitis. It is first important to ensure this is not from an acute infection or allergies. Sometimes the symptoms can be so significant that it can cause difficulties sleeping. Usually, treatment is not needed for this but there are some ways to manage this without medications. Regular exercise can result in normal constriction of the blood vessels in the nasal region to reduce the swelling. Saline nasal sprays may be helpful (as they are for various forms of rhinitis). Sleeping with extra pillows at night can help. If medication is needed, nasal ipratropium bromide may be helpful but there isn't clear evidence to support this. Data suggests that the presence of pregnancy rhinitis does not appear to affect the outcome of pregnancy unless it is causing sleep disturbances or sleep-disordered breathing. It is not possible to make a diagnosis or management plan without seeing the patient. Therefore it is the strong recommendation to seek a referral to an ear-nose-throat specialists to be evaluated in person.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.