Can I take hay fever medicine during pregnancy?

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Can I take hay fever medicine during pregnancy?
The general advice is to avoid all medications when you are pregnant, especially during the first three months.

You may be prescribed with medicines which are known to be safe during pregnancy but you should take the smallest effective dose for the shortest time and avoid newer, untested medicines.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines prevent the body from releasing the chemicals that cause an allergic reaction.

Antihistamines are not usually prescribed for use in pregnancy. However, some older antihistamines such as chlorpheniramine are considered safe to take when you are pregnant. They can cause drowsiness so be cautious when driving.

Antihistamine eye-drops are also considered safe to use during pregnancy but be careful as some people are allergic to them. An antihistamine nasal spray can usually be used with care, but you should speak to your doctor if you are considering using either of these methods.

It is not yet known if newer, non-sedative antihistamines such as terfenadine, astemizole, loratidine and cetirizine are safe to use during pregnancy so these should be avoided.

Decongestants

Decongestant medicines or nasal decongestants should only be taken if prescribed by your doctor. At the moment there is insufficient evidence of their safety for pregnant women.

Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays

These are known to reduce inflammation in the nose. The amount of corticosteroids in nasal sprays is low so they are generally considered safe for short-term use, as long as you don't exceed the recommended dose. Drops should be avoided as more of the medicine is absorbed into your body so there is a higher risk of experiencing side effects.

Sodium Cromoglycate

This is a non-steroid preventative medication which prevents allergic reactions in the nose and eyes. It is available over-the-counter as eye drops or a nasal spray and is usually considered safe for pregnant women to use. Sodium cromoglycate is relatively short-acting, so needs to be used a few times a day to have the desired effect.

Your doctor, midwife or pharmacist will advise you on what is safe to take while you are pregnant and prescriptions are free for pregnant women.

Always try to avoid the symptoms of hay fever:
Avoid long grass and other pollen rich areas, especially in the afternoon and evening when the pollen count is at its highest
Keep windows closed
Wear large sun glasses while outside to prevent pollen getting into your eyes
Remember beaches with on-shore breezes often have less pollen
Take a shower and wash your hair after going outside when the pollen count is high
Check the pollen forecast before going outside.

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