What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

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.


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.

About loratadine

Type of medicine Antihistamine (non-drowsy)
Used for Allergies including hay fever and allergic skin rashes
Also called Clarityn® Allergy; Clarityn® Rapide Allergy; Boots One A Day Allergy Relief; LloydsPharmacy Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief; Numark Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief
Available as Tablets, orodispersible tablets (which melt in the mouth) and oral liquid medicine

Loratadine belongs to a group of medicines called antihistamines — it is an anti-allergy medicine.

What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

It stops the effects of a naturally occurring substance called histamine and this helps to relieve the symptoms of allergies such as hay fever and urticaria.

Exposure to substances such as pollen, pet fur, home dust or insect bites can cause your body to produce allergic symptoms. Cells in the lining of your nose and eyes release histamine when they come into contact with these substances. This leads to inflammation in your nose and eyes, which produces symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes.

Urticaria is a condition where an itchy skin rash develops.

The rash can be triggered by an allergy to a substance such as a soap or a detergent.

Loratadine can be prescribed for you by a doctor or dentist, or you can purchase it without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets.

What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

Tablet formulations are generally suitable for adults and older children, whereas oral liquid medicine is available for younger children. Loratadine is not suitable for children under 2 years of age.


Getting the most from your treatment

  1. Most people only need to take an antihistamine for a short while when they own symptoms. You should stop taking loratadine once your symptoms own eased.
  2. If you drink alcohol while you are taking loratadine, be aware of its effects on you and do not drink more than moderate amounts.

    What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

    Alcohol can increase the risk of experiencing side-effects from antihistamines — for instance, you may feel more drowsy than usual.

  3. If you are having an operation, or any treatment or tests (particularly if it is to test for an allergy), make certain you tell that you are taking an antihistamine.
  4. Although loratadine is classed as a non-drowsy antihistamine, it can still cause drowsiness in a few people. If you are affected by drowsiness, do not drive, do not use a bicycle, and do not use tools or machines.
  5. If you purchase any medicines ‘over the counter’, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with an antihistamine.

    This is because a number of other medicines can increase the risk of side-effects.


Loratadine side-effects

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them.

What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

The table under contains some of the more common ones associated with loratadine. The best put to discover a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with your medicine, is from the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Alternatively, you can discover an example of a manufacturer’s information leaflet in the reference section under. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Loratadine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling tired or sleepy Do not drive and do not use tools or machines while affected.

Do not drink alcohol

Headache Drink plenty of water and enquire your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, speak with your doctor
Nervousness (in children) Speak with a doctor if troublesome

If you experience any other symptoms which you ponder may be due to loratadine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.


How to take loratadine

  • Before starting the treatment, read the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet from inside the pack.

    What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

    It will give you more information about loratadine dosage, and it will also provide you with a full list of side-effects which could be experienced from taking it.

  • Recommended doses of loratadine are:
    1. For children aged over 2 years and weighing 31 kg or more: 10 mg taken once a day.
    2. For children aged over 2 years and weighing less than 31 kg: 5 mg taken once a day.
    3. If you are taking a brand of tablet called Clarityn® Rapide Allergy, these tablets are made to dissolve in your mouth so that you can swallow them without needing a drink of water. Remove the tablet carefully from the wrapper (by peeling off the backing) and put it on your tongue.

      Permit the tablet to disperse in your mouth, and then swallow.

    4. If you are giving loratadine liquid medicine to a kid, make certain you follow the dosing instructions on the bottle carefully so that you measure out the correct dose for the weight of your child.
    5. You can take loratadine either with or without food.

      What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

      Some people discover it helps to swallow the tablets with a drink of water.

    6. For adults and for children aged over 12 years: 10 mg taken once a day.
    7. If you forget to take a dose, don’t worry, just take the next dose when it is needed and then continue as before. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.


    Before taking loratadine

    To make certain that this is the correct treatment for you (or your child), before you (or they) start taking loratadine it is significant that you discuss the treatment with a doctor or pharmacist if:

    1. You/they are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding.
    2. You/they own a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
    3. You/they are taking or using any other medicines.

      What allergy medicine can you take during pregnancy

      This includes any medicines being taken which are available to purchase without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.

    4. You/they own any liver problems. If so, the recommended dose may need to be reduced.
    5. You/they own ever had an allergic reaction to another antihistamine, or to any other medicine.


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