What allergy medicine can be taken during pregnancy

Allergy shots can be continued during pregnancy, but it is not recommended to start this treatment while pregnant. Typically the dose of the allergy shots is not increased, and numerous allergists will cut the dose of the allergy shot by 50% during pregnancy.

Some allergists feel that allergy shots should be stopped during pregnancy given the risk of anaphylaxis and the resulting harm to the fetus. Other than anaphylaxis, no data shows that the allergy shots themselves are actually harmful to the fetus.

How to Treat Allergies During Pregnancy

Generally speaking, allergy medications are classified as either Pregnancy Category B or Category C.

Pseudoephedrine should not be used during the entire first trimester as is linked to a birth defect called gastroschisis in which the baby's intestines are found exterior of the body.

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  • Allergen Immunotherapy Practice Parameters. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003; 90:S1-40.
  • Dykewicz MS, Fineman S, editors. Diagnosis and Management of Rhinitis: Finish Guidelines of the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
  • stay indoors whenever possible
  • Kar S, Krishnan A, Preetha K, Mohankar A.

    A review of antihistamines used during pregnancy. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(2):105–108. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95503

  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • keep windows and doors shut as much as possible

Additional Reading

  1. Allergen Immunotherapy Practice Parameters. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003; 90:S1-40.
  2. Dykewicz MS, Fineman S, editors. Diagnosis and Management of Rhinitis: Finish Guidelines of the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Get advice first

Although you can purchase numerous hay fever medicines over the counter, it’s best to get advice from a pharmacist or GP before taking any medicine when you’re pregnant.

They’ll assess your symptoms and the benefits of taking a medicine against the risk of any side effects.

To ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high, it helps to:

  1. wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  2. stay indoors whenever possible
  3. keep windows and doors shut as much as possible

If you decide to take hay fever medicine, you’ll generally be advised to attempt a nasal spray or eyedrops first.

Additional Reading

  1. Allergen Immunotherapy Practice Parameters. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003; 90:S1-40.
  2. Dykewicz MS, Fineman S, editors. Diagnosis and Management of Rhinitis: Finish Guidelines of the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Get advice first

Although you can purchase numerous hay fever medicines over the counter, it’s best to get advice from a pharmacist or GP before taking any medicine when you’re pregnant.

They’ll assess your symptoms and the benefits of taking a medicine against the risk of any side effects.

To ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high, it helps to:

  1. wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  2. stay indoors whenever possible
  3. keep windows and doors shut as much as possible

If you decide to take hay fever medicine, you’ll generally be advised to attempt a nasal spray or eyedrops first.


Pollen problems

Primarily, pollens in the air cause spring allergies.

Pollens come primarily from trees and grasses. When pollen grains get into the nose, the immune system mistakenly labels them as foreign and releases antibodies to attack these allergens.

That leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger runny noses, itchy eyes and other symptoms.

What allergy medicine can be taken during pregnancy

Avoiding triggers is the first and best option, although it is admittedly hard. Pollens circulate more on windy days. The higher the pollen count, the more miserable one will be.

What allergy medicine can be taken during pregnancy

Numerous cities publicize daily pollen counts. When counts are high or when it is windy, hold windows and doors closed. If possible, stay inside.


Antihistamine tablets (oral antihistamines)

Antihistamine tablets can assist relieve itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing, but not every types are suitable to take during pregnancy, so always check with a GP beforehand.

Pharmacists are unlikely to sell antihistamines without a prescription for use in pregnancy because of manufacturers’ restrictions.

If you cannot use nasal sprays or eyedrops or they do not work for you, a GP may recommend an antihistamine tablet that does not cause drowsiness, such as:

  1. loratadine – this is generally the first choice for pregnant women because of the quantity of safety data available for it
  2. cetirizine – if loratadine is not suitable or does not work for you, a GP may recommend cetirizine, another antihistamine tablet that does not cause drowsiness

Chlorphenamine is also considered one of the safer antihistamines to take during pregnancy, but because it can cause drowsiness, loratadine and cetirizine are generally the preferred options.

For information about taking specific medicines in pregnancy, see the bumps (best use of medicines in pregnancy) website.

Allergy medications while pregnant

When it comes to taking allergy medications while pregnant, it’s correct for a woman to be concerned about the baby.

Women need to be extremely cautious about using any drugs during pregnancy and if at every possible, to avoid them completely in the first trimester. Most importantly, before taking any allergy drugs at any point during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

Use of oral decongestants is associated with increased risk of birth defects. Some oral antihistamines, love Allegra (fexofenadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine), Claritin (loratadine), and Zyrtec (cetirizine) appear to be safe after the first trimester, safe meaning they own caused no known harm in studies that own been done.

Avoid antihistamines combined with a decongestant.

What allergy medicine can be taken during pregnancy

(Most own a D for decongestant after the name, love Claritin-D.)

Nasal sprays, as prescribed or recommended by a doctor, are applied only in the nose. That means their effects do not go throughout the body love oral medications.

What allergy medicine can be taken during pregnancy

However, avoid nasal spray decongestants. There is not enough evidence to indicate whether or not they are safe.

Don’t start allergy shots during pregnancy. If women are already taking them when they become pregnant, they can continue.

The reality is, not taking any allergy medication is the best option. But for women whose allergy symptoms are leaving them sleepless and unable to function, taking medication with a doctor’s approval may be better for both them and the baby.

It’s significant for women with allergic asthma to use their prescribed medication. Uncontrolled asthma can cause serious problems during pregnancy.


Antihistamines

Older antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine, are the preferred agents to treat allergic rhinitis during pregnancy and are both Category B medications.

Newer antihistamines such as over-the-counter loratadine (Claritin, generic forms) and cetirizine (Zyrtec, generic forms) are also Pregnancy Category B medications.

What allergy medicine can be taken during pregnancy

A newer prescription antihistamine that is Pregnancy Category B is Xyzal (levocetirizine).


Medicated Nasal Sprays

Cromolyn nasal spray is helpful in treating allergic rhinitis if it is used before exposure to an allergen and prior to the onset of symptoms. This medication is Pregnancy Category B and is available over the counter.

If Cromolyn is not helpful, a nasal steroid spray called Rhinocort Aqua (budesonide) received a Pregnancy Category B rating. Every other steroid nasal sprays are category C) and should be avoided during pregnancy.


Decongestants

Pseudoephedrine (known by the brand name Sudafed and others) is the preferred oral decongestant to treat allergies during pregnancy.

What allergy medicine can be taken during pregnancy

Classified as Pregnancy Category C, pseudoephedrine is known to hazardous in certain situations.


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