What kind of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

Pseudoephedrine (known by the brand name Sudafed and others) is the preferred oral decongestant to treat allergies during pregnancy. Classified as Pregnancy Category C, pseudoephedrine is known to hazardous in certain situations.


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 helpful of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

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


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.

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. Tablet formulations are generally suitable for adults and older children, whereas oral liquid medicine is available for younger children.

What helpful of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

Loratadine is not suitable for children under 2 years of age.


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 own any liver problems. If so, the recommended dose may need to be reduced.
  2. You/they are taking or using any other medicines.

    What helpful of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

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

  3. You/they are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding.
  4. You/they own a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  5. You/they own ever had an allergic reaction to another antihistamine, or to any other medicine.


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% 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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What helpful of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

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  • 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.

    What helpful of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

    2012;3(2):105–108. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95503

  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • Allergen Immunotherapy Practice Parameters.

    What helpful of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

    Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003; 90:S1-40.

  • 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.

What helpful of allergy medicine can i take while 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.


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.

What helpful of allergy medicine can i take while pregnant

Every other steroid nasal sprays are category C) and should be avoided during pregnancy.


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