What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

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.


Can I get allergies while I’m pregnant?

Yes, you can get allergies while you’re pregnant, sometimes for the first time and certainly if you own a history of them.

Allergies are extremely common in pregnancy, and not every women who experience them are long-term allergy sufferers. Numerous women with no known prior allergies only complain of their symptoms during pregnancy.


Safety of Allergy Medications During Pregnancy

According to the Food and Drug istration (FDA), no drugs are considered completely safe in pregnancy. The organization advises that women carefully consider the use of any medications, especially pain medications. This is because no pregnant lady would desire to sign up for a medication safety study while she is pregnant.

Therefore, the FDA has assigned risk categories to medications based on use in pregnancy:

  1. Category “A” medications are medications in which there are excellent studies in pregnant women showing the safety of the medication to the baby in the first trimester. There are extremely few medications in this category and no asthma medications.
  2. Category “D” medications show clear risk to the fetus, but there may be instances in which the benefits outweigh the risks in humans.
  3. Category “C” medications may result in adverse effects on the fetus when studied in pregnant animals, but the benefits of these drugs may out weight the potential risks in humans.
  4. Category “B” medications show excellent safety studies in pregnant animals but there are no human studies available.
  5. Category “X” medications show clear evidence of birth defects in animals and/or human studies and should not be used in pregnancy.


Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis During Pregnancy

Allergy testing includes skin testing or blood tests, called a RAST.

In general, allergy skin testing is not done during pregnancy, given the little chance of anaphylaxis which may occur. Anaphylaxis during pregnancy, if severe, could result in a decrease in blood and oxygen to the uterus, possibly harming the fetus.


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.

Rhinitis during pregnancy can be due to allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, or non-allergic rhinitis.

If the lady has had allergic rhinitis prior to pregnancy, this could worsen, stay the same, or even improve. This change in symptoms may be dependent upon numerous factors, including the presence of seasonal allergens and increase in pregnancy hormones.

Non-allergic rhinitis in pregnancy may also be due to an increase in pregnancy hormones, leading to nasal congestion, runny nose, and postnasal drip. This is called “rhinitis of pregnancy”. The symptoms may mimic allergies, but since they are non-allergic in nature, do not reply to anti-histamines.

The pregnant lady with rhinitis may be concerned about the safety of medications during pregnancy, and therefore avoid taking medications.

If avoidance of allergic triggers is not possible or successful, medications may be needed to control symptoms.


Treatment of Rhinitis During Pregnancy

  1. Antihistamines: Older antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine and tripelennamine, 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®/Alavert® and generic forms) and cetirizine (Zyrtec® and generic forms) are also pregnancy category B medications.
  2. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA has reviewed possible risks of pain medicine use during pregnancy.

    U.S.

    What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

    Food and Drug istration. 01/19/2016

  3. Immunotherapy: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 percent during pregnancy.

    What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

    Some allergists feel that allergy shots should be stopped during pregnancy, given the risk of anaphylaxis and possible harm to the fetus as a result. Other than anaphylaxis, there is no data showing that the allergy shots themselves are actually harmful to the fetus.

  4. Dzieciolowska-baran E, Teul-swiniarska I, Gawlikowska-sroka A, Poziomkowska-gesicka I, Zietek Z. Rhinitis as a cause of respiratory disorders during pregnancy. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;755:213-20. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4546-9_27

  5. FDA Pregnancy Categories. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Updated: Wed Jun 26 2019

  6. Decongestants: Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed and numerous generic forms) is the preferred oral decongestant to treat allergic and non-allergic rhinitis during pregnancy, although should be avoided during the entire first trimester, as it has been associated with baby gastroschisis. This medication is pregnancy category C.
  7. Pali-Schöll I, Namazy J, Jensen-Jarolim E.

    Allergic diseases and asthma in pregnancy, a secondary publication. World Allergy Organ J.

    What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

    2017;10(1):10. Published 2017 Mar 2.

    What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

    doi:10.1186/s40413-017-0141-8

  8. Medicated Nasal Sprays: Cromolyn nasal spray (NasalCrom®, generics) 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.

    What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

    If this medication is not helpful, one nasal steroid, budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua®), received a pregnancy category B rating (all others are category C), and therefore would be the nasal steroid of choice during pregnancy. Rhinocort became available over-the-counter without a prescription in early 2016.

  9. Nasal Saline: Rhinitis of pregnancy tends not to reply to antihistamines or nasal sprays. This condition seems to reply temporarily to nasal saline (saltwater), which is safe to use during pregnancy (it is not actually a drug).

    Nasal saline is available over the counter, is inexpensive, and can be used as often as needed. Generally, 3 to 6 sprays are placed in each nostril, leaving the saline in the nose for up to 30 seconds, and then blowing the nose.

  10. National Middle for Complimentary and Integrative Health. Is Rinsing Your Sinuses With Neti Pots Safe? September 24, 2017

Allergy skin testing is generally deferred during pregnancy, although a RAST would be a safe alternative if the results are needed during pregnancy.

Before any medication is taken during pregnancy, the doctor and patient must own a risk/benefit discussion. This means that the benefits of the medication should be weighed against the risks—and the medication should only be taken if the benefits outweigh the risks.

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  • Dzieciolowska-baran E, Teul-swiniarska I, Gawlikowska-sroka A, Poziomkowska-gesicka I, Zietek Z. Rhinitis as a cause of respiratory disorders during pregnancy. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;755:213-20. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4546-9_27

  • FDA Pregnancy Categories. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Updated: Wed Jun 26 2019

  • FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA has reviewed possible risks of pain medicine use during pregnancy.

    U.S. Food and Drug istration. 01/19/2016

  • Pali-Schöll I, Namazy J, Jensen-Jarolim E.

    What can i do for my allergies while pregnant

    Allergic diseases and asthma in pregnancy, a secondary publication. World Allergy Organ J. 2017;10(1):10. Published 2017 Mar 2. doi:10.1186/s40413-017-0141-8

  • National Middle for Complimentary and Integrative Health. Is Rinsing Your Sinuses With Neti Pots Safe? September 24, 2017

If sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes began plaguing you for the extremely first time during pregnancy, you may be wondering whether having a baby bump triggered seasonal allergies. If you are a known allergy sufferer, you’re probably wondering if and how your pregnancy might affect your symptoms.

For one, pregnancy-related nasal congestion, not allergies, could be behind every the sneezes and stuffiness.

But how can you tell the difference? Here’s what you need to know about allergies during pregnancy, including what medications are safe to take while you’re expecting.

If sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes began plaguing you for the extremely first time during pregnancy, you may be wondering whether having a baby bump triggered seasonal allergies. If you are a known allergy sufferer, you’re probably wondering if and how your pregnancy might affect your symptoms.

For one, pregnancy-related nasal congestion, not allergies, could be behind every the sneezes and stuffiness.

But how can you tell the difference? Here’s what you need to know about allergies during pregnancy, including what medications are safe to take while you’re expecting.


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