Pregnancy Can Cause Runny Nose

Unlike a runny nose flower's droplets of nectar is considered beautiful!

When you are pregnant every part of your body is dramatically effected by the physical changes that accommodate the developing baby. The uterus grows from 70 grams to 1000 grams, most women gain  at least a couple of stone, and your skin starts taking on pigments that may fade but never leave! We notice a our tastes changing, and our smell changing, and generally we ignore what seems minor. 

But what may seem minor, but often isn’t in pregnancy, is the runny nose and altered hearing women report. There are specifically sinus changes in the ear, nose and throat primarily due to changes in the circulatory system, such as the 50% extra fluid in our circulation women produce by late second trimester. Just that extra fluid can produce more complaints of runny noses.

We also have some increased susceptibility to viral infections, which can cause upper respiratory symptoms from actual colds and flu.

Some of the runny nose comes from pressure changes from the bulk pressure of the growing uterus on the circulation. Oddly this too can oddly lead to increased runny nose!

This can range from the very minor changes such as an occasional sneeze or drips, or become ringing in the ears or tinnitus, facial palsies due to swelling around the nerves, and even (relatively rare) cases of partial or full deafness. Since it is the pregnancy that caused it, it should be self limiting to pregnancy as well.

Causes aren’t just from increased circulation and pressure, as the levels of estrogen and progesterone rise without enough corresponding change in cortisol levels or immune enhancement there may also be heightened sensitivity to allergens may influence the engorgement of the nasal mucosa.

In addition to runny noses fragile nasal passage linings can in turn cause epistaxis (bloody nose) and rhinitis.

Most treatment regimens of these complaints do not differ from the treatment of these conditions in the non-pregnant state other than being aware of the effects of any selected medication on the fetus, as most advice relies on case reports or reports of case series.

What did you notice during your pregnancy? Were there any treatments that helped you especially? Are you planning another pregnancy? Let us discuss the plans before you conceive.


Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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