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Hay Fever in Pregnancy

Hay Fever In Pregnancy

Hay fever is a miserable allergen to face even when you’re not pregnant. Being pregnant and getting hit with the familiar sneezing, sniffling and red, itchy eyes oh hay fever can be tricky to treat. Some mums may miss taking their favourite antihistamine as most medicines are not recommended for pregnancy. So, what are you to do?

Hay Fever In Pregnancy: What To Expect And How To Cope With It

Treatment for hay fever may be different to ones you experienced before falling pregnant. Nasal drops and eye drops are often doctors’ go-tos when treating the allergic reaction. From natural remedies to medication that has an extra kick in it, knowing how to treat your hay fever will make the season changes much more pleasant.

1. What Is Hay Fever?

Hay fever affects 1 in 5 adults and can be the cause of much aggregation. The constant discomfort in the nose and itchy eyes are enough to drive anyone mad.

Airborne Allergens expert, Max Wiseberg, describes hay fever to be an allergic reaction one has to the pollen in the air.

The allergic reaction can spur on sneezing, itching and a runny nose. It can also have an effect on your eyes and sinuses, flooding them with water and scratchiness. The allergic reaction is caused by too many histamines in the body. When there are too many histamines, you will start to notice the unpleasant symptoms of hay fever. Most people can tolerate pollen but everyone has a sensitivity level that will spark an allergic reaction and release the histamines.

2. How Do I Know It’s Not Just Pregnancy-Related Nasal Congestion?

Unfortunately, a stuffy nose is not uncommon in pregnancy. Nasal congestion usually will start to bother mums-to-be when they’re in their second trimester.

The high levels of estrogen and progesterone tend to increase the blood flow in the body which causes the mucous membranes to swell and soften. As a result, you will feel stuffed up and feel the constant need to reach for some tissues.

The common pregnancy-related nasal congestion can be difficult to distinguish from the pesky symptoms of hay fever. If you’re suffering from hay fever, you will probably start suffering from other symptoms such as itchy eyes and sneezing as well. On top of the congested nose, these symptoms are signs of hay fever. However, if you’re unsure, it’s best to consult your physician for the best treatment.

3. Will My Allergies Affect My Baby?

Just because you’re being faced with allergies, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have an unsafe and unhealthy pregnancy. Chances are, your baby won’t even notice that you’re feeling under the weather.

The main concern creeps up when you start treating the allergies. Some antihistamines and medication can be harmful to your baby. If you’re struggling with allergies, book a time to see your doctor. When you see your doctor, tell them about your symptoms and discuss suitable treatments.

Your baby will perfectly safe from your allergies and mums-to-be shouldn’t worry too much about the effects. Safe and proper treatment is key to ensuring that your pregnancy stays healthy.

4. What Medication Can I Take?

Before taking any medication, you should check with your doctor for the ones that are safe for your pregnancy. Even if you already have a medicinal prescription or homoeopathic medications, don’t risk taking them without your practitioner's go-ahead.

With that in mind, there are a few options for you to consider taking for your allergies.

  • Antihistamines: Depending on the brand, antihistamines can be perfectly safe for your pregnancy. Your doctor will most likely prescribe diphenhydramine which is commonly found in Benadryl.

Other medications like loratadine will need to be confirmed by your health practitioner. Some consider it safe but some doctors advise not to take this form of medication, especially during the first trimester of your pregnancy.

You may also be prescribed chlorpheniramine or triprolidine on a limited basis. Again, this will have to be okayed by your doctor for your pregnancy.

  • Regular decongestants: Common hay fever medication like Claritin-D and DayQuil are off-limits for expectant mums as they contain pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. After your first trimester, your doctor may okay limited usage but the first trimester is definitely a no go.

Doctors may only allow limited usage of decongestants due to the fact that they can restrict the blood flow to the placenta. Instead, rather opt for the safe and user-friendly Vicks VapoRub if you’re in need of some clearing up.

  • Nasal sprays: Common saline sprays are perfectly fine for pregnant women to take. Steroid based nasal spray are generally considered safer but there’s no harm in consulting your doctor before self-dosing.

On the other hand, nonsteroidal nasal sprays are more risky to take. Nasal sprays that contain oxymetazoline aren’t usually classified as safe for pregnant women to take. However, your doctor will be able to determine if you can take non-steroidal nasal sprays based on your condition.

In terms of a more holistic and natural approach, mums-to-be could consider:

  • Air purifier: Purchasing an air purifier will help remove airborne viruses and bacteria that can aggravate your hay fever. It will also neutralise any odours and fumes.
  • Limiting your intake of certain foods: Removing sugar, dairy and products with yeast will help reduce the amount of mucus.
  • Visit your homoeopath: Your homoeopath will be able to make the right dosages for certain herbs and roots to take. Tissue salts and colloidal silver are great for uplifting that hay fever haze.

5. How Do I Avoid Hay Fever?

Instead of treating the symptoms, mums may want to start treating the cause and avoid hay fever all together. You can try these tips to prevent allergies while you’re pregnant:

  • No second-hand smoke: Even just being near people who are smoking will make your allergies worse.
  • Test for allergies: Finding out if you’re allergic to pollen, dust, and pets will help you steer clear of the irritants
  • Changing your pillow: feathered pillows may tickle or irritate your allergic reactions.
  • Clean up: ensuring that your house is free from dust will stop it from fluttering around and leaving you to sneeze throughout your day.

Relieving your hay fever symptoms will help make pregnancy just a little bit easier. One thing's for sure, finding out what’s safe to take and what’s best for you is the right place to start.

Article By

Dr Beverley (MBChB, MRCGP) is a qualified GP. She works in a GP practice in Manchester and also helps in the out of hours GP service. She has experience in both obstetrics & gynaecology and paediatrics and has three children of her own.

to read more articles by Dr Beverley Sanders

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