If you can’t step outside without sneezing, chances are seasonal allergies are to blame. Pregnancy can cause enough symptoms as it is. But adding an itchy nose to an itchy belly can make for a long trimester.
Seasonal allergies cause symptoms, including:
- runny nose
The condition can affect your breathing. So can pregnancy. Fortunately, there are many safe treatments you can use to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.
You need to be careful of the medications you take and other treatments during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about treating seasonal allergies.
Depending on where you live, spring allergies can pop up around February and end in early summer. Fall allergies can take place in late summer and continue until late fall. Pregnancy can make seasonal allergies worse. Also, a condition called “rhinitis of pregnancy” can cause similar symptoms to seasonal allergies. This usually occurs in the last trimester. But the cause of rhinitis of pregnancy is extra hormones, not allergens.
- Creating a saline nasal spray by combining 8 ounces of warm water with 1/4 salt to the water. You can add this to a spray or squeeze bottle to irrigate and soothe irritated nasal passages. Neti pots are another option.
- Watching news reports and checking pollen counts daily. During episodes of large pollen counts, pregnant women can avoid too much time outdoors to keep exposure down.
- Avoiding going outdoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., the times when pollen counts are usually the highest.
- Taking showers and changing clothing after being outside. This can help remove pollen that builds up on hair and clothing.
- Wearing a protective filter mask when doing outdoor activities like mowing the lawn or gardening.
- Wearing over-the-counter nasal strips at night. These position the nasal passages so they’re more open. This reduces a person’s symptoms.
If you can avoid whatever’s causing your seasonal allergies, you can often keep your symptoms at bay.
- cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton)
- diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- loratadine (Claritin)
There are always risks when taking any medication during pregnancy. Women should talk with their doctors before taking allergy medicines to make sure they aren’t potentially harmful. While doctors consider many oral over-the-counter medications safe for seasonal allergies, using both oral and nasal spray decongestants isn’t as studied or well-known. Use of nasal sprays may be safer than oral decongestants. That’s because nasal sprays aren’t as likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream. An example is oxymetazoline, an ingredient in brands like Afrin and Neo-Synephrine. Women should exercise caution when using nasal sprays for more than three days. This is because using decongestants for longer can make allergy symptoms worse by causing nasal swelling. Some women also get allergy shots. These are compounds of allergens that are injected as a means to desensitize a person to an allergen. If a woman becomes pregnant while she is in the course of her allergy shots, she can usually keep getting them. Pregnancy isn’t a good time to start getting allergy shots. It’s possible they can cause strong allergic reactions. Without knowing a woman’s reaction, it’s best to delay starting allergy shots until after giving birth.
- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed): While some studies found that pseudoephedrine is safe in pregnancy, there have been reports of an increase in abdominal wall defects in the babies of mothers who used the medication during pregnancy, according to the ACAAI.
- Phenylephrine and phenylpropanolamine: These decongestants are considered “less desirable” than taking pseudoephedrine, according to the ACAAI.
What remedies are helpful for allergies during pregnancy? Anonymous patient
The safest methods are taking simple steps such as trying to avoid known allergens and saline nose drops. When this doesn’t work, over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Tavist are acceptable. Sudafed can be used after the first trimester with caution if other methods fail. Almost all of these medications are category C which means there aren’t sufficient studies available to assure safety, yet there are no significant known problems with these drugs. If the problem is severe or is not responding to home remedies, seek the advice of a doctor. Michael Weber, MDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.