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What Is Pregnancy Nose?
April 21, 2023|Read Time - 5 minutes
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All you need to know about the viral “Pregnancy Nose” trend

During pregnancy, the body undergoes a rollercoaster of changes as it evolves from solo act to human incubator. Sometimes, those changes are amazing (who hasn’t heard about the famed pregnancy glow or the voluminous hair?), but some developments (swollen feet, weight gain, morning sickness, strange cravings that'll have you questioning your own sanity) leave much to be desired - and thanks to a recent viral TikTok trend, we can add one more bizarre phenomenon to the list: pregnancy nose.

Social media platforms have become a popular source of information, advice and shared experiences for pregnant women. The most recent trend, known as “pregnancy nose,” involves TikTok users sharing before-and-after photos of the noticeable nasal swelling that occurred during their pregnancies. We spoke with Sesame’s medical director, Dr. Allison Edwards, MD, to discuss what pregnancy nose swelling is, why it happens, whether or not it's temporary and how to avoid it.

What is pregnancy nose?


“Pregnancy nose” is an umbrella term that generally refers to the physical changes that can occur in a woman's nose during pregnancy, making it appear larger or more swollen (often in the third trimester). The term pregnancy nose can also be used to describe the heightened sense of smell (hyperosmia) and nasal congestion experienced by some pregnant women, which is also referred to as pregnancy rhinitis. "Pregnancy can actually cause quite a few changes to your nose due to increased hormone production," says Dr. Edwards. "It's not uncommon to notice that your nose is more congested, swollen or runny."

What are the causes of pregnancy nose?


While there isn’t one distinct reason why pregnancy nose occurs, there are several theories as to why some pregnant women's noses may appear swollen or larger during pregnancy. These include:

  • Increased Blood Flow: Pregnant women experience a significant increase in blood volume, which helps support the growing fetus and placenta. This increased blood flow can cause the blood vessels in the nose to expand, leading to noticeable swelling.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes play a crucial role in pregnancy-related nasal swelling. The primary hormones involved are estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen can cause the nasal blood vessels to dilate, while progesterone increases blood flow to mucous membranes. These hormonal changes can contribute to the physical swelling of the nose.
  • Fluid Retention: Fluid retention is common during pregnancy and can affect various parts of the body, including the nose. This can happen due to adrenal glands producing more aldosterone and cortisol (two hormones that make the body retain fluids). The growing uterus can also make it more difficult for fluids to circulate, causing increased pressure on blood vessels and swelling in the extremities, face and nose.
  • Pregnancy Rhinitis: Rhinitis of pregnancy is a condition that affects around 30% of pregnant women. It is characterized by nasal congestion, runny nose, nosebleeds, and sneezing, often without any apparent cause, such as allergies or infection. While rhinitis of pregnancy is primarily associated with nasal passage congestion, the inflammation and increased mucus production can also contribute to the overall swelling of the nose.

Is pregnancy nose cause for concern?


If you notice that your nose seems to be larger than usual during pregnancy, it’s not necessarily cause for concern. However, it’s important to note that sudden swelling of the feet, ankles, face and hands during pregnancy can be a sign of preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure which can be dangerous if not properly treated. If you notice sudden swelling of the extremities or other symptoms such as blurred vision and headaches, you should contact your OB-GYN or healthcare provider immediately.

How to manage pregnancy nose swelling


While pregnancy nose swelling is generally harmless, it can cause discomfort or self-consciousness for some women. Some tips for managing and coping with pregnancy nose swelling include:

  • Elevating Your Head: Keeping your head elevated while sleeping can help reduce fluid accumulation in the face and nose, potentially decreasing swelling.
  • Applying Cold Compresses: Applying a cold compress to the nose can help alleviate swelling and provide relief from any discomfort associated with nasal congestion.
  • Avoiding High Salt Intake: Reducing salt intake can help prevent fluid retention and reduce swelling throughout the body.
  • Using a humidifier: Dry air can cause nasal irritation, so using a humidifier to add moisture to the air can help alleviate congestion and stuffiness.

Is pregnancy nose swelling temporary?


The good news for expectant mothers is that pregnancy nose swelling is typically a temporary condition that normally resolves itself after giving birth, says Dr. Edwards. As hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy state and blood volume decreases, the swelling should subside. However, it's essential to note that the timeline for resolution may vary from person to person. Some women may notice a reduction in swelling soon after delivery, while others may take several weeks or even months for the swelling to subside completely.

If you’re experiencing nasal swelling or other symptoms during pregnancy that are causing irritation or discomfort, it’s always best to consult with an OB-GYN or a healthcare provider who specializes in women’s health and wellness to ensure that the changes aren’t an indicator of a more serious condition. You can also search for OB-GYNs on Sesame - simply search by symptom, service or doctor name so that you can get affordable, quality care with ease.

Sources:

  • Dzieciolowska-Baran E, et al.; Rhinitis as a cause of respiratory disorders during pregnancy. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22826069/.
  • Nosebleeds during pregnancy (n.d.). American Pregnancy Association. americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-concerns/nosebleeds-during-pregnancy.
  • Varghese, Ashish. ENT Changes of Pregnancy and Its Management. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3918343/.

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