Medications You Should Definitely Avoid During Pregnancy:
Make sure to avoid the following:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors: These are prescribed for hypertension or congestive heart failure, and can cause miscarriage or birth defects.
- Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine , especially if taken during the first trimester, may cause stomach defects or affect blood flow to the placenta though some doctors will recommend in limited amounts in the second and third trimesters. Also avoid cough and cold meds that contain alcohol or NSAIDs.
- Isotretinoin : This medication for cystic acne raises the risk of miscarriage and physical and mental defects in babies.
- Methotrexate: Used to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, methotrexate increases the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
- Valproic acid: Used for epilepsy, bipolar disorder and sometimes migraines, valproic acid can cause major birth defects, such as a heart defect, and behavior and learning problems. Check with your practitioner if valproic acid can be changed to another medication prior to pregnancy.
How Pregnancy Can Affect Allergies
If youve already noticed that youre more bothered by allergies, youre not alone. Studies suggest that allergy symptoms increase for 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women. But allergies are also unpredictable. Some women find no change while others say theyre less affected when pregnant, and still others develop allergies for the first time.
Though having allergies can be difficult for you, the allergies themselves dont seem to affect your baby directly. What you take for them, however, could pass to him or her in the womb. The problem is that it’s not entirely clear which drugs do this, making it hard to know whats truly safe, according to research in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Also, few studies have looked at the best ways to treat allergies in pregnant women.
Choosing An Allergy Medication
Once you know which medications are safe to take, youll have to figure out which one will work the best for you. If your allergies are chronic or environmental , you may want to find an antihistamine you can take every day, such as Claritin or Zyrtec.
Seasonal allergies can also be treated this way, but if your symptoms are very infrequent, Benadryl is a good, super-safe choice.
Benadryl can make you excessively drowsy, so be careful of when you take it if youre not sure how it will affect you, dont take a dose before driving. If it makes you sleepy, save your dose for the evening hours, before bedtime.
If you suffer from sinus pain or pressure during allergies, one of the nasal steroid sprays can be a good option. Pregnant women often end up with excess nasal congestion anyway, thanks to an increase in fluid and blood volume a nasal steroid can help relieve some of these additional symptoms.
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Key Findings: Antihistamines And Birth Defects
Pregnant woman talking to her doctor about medication use.
In a new CDC study, researchers reviewed more than 50 published scientific articles to see if there was a risk of birth defects from using antihistamines, like allergy medication, during pregnancy. Researchers found the evidence to be generally reassuring: most antihistamines do not appear to be linked to birth defects. However, researchers need to study certain antihistamine medications further to determine if they increase the risk for birth defects. You can read the articles abstract hereexternal icon. Read more below for a summary of the findings from this article.
Prevention Of Allergies During Pregnancy
Yes, prevention will help you avoid allergies. The most important thing is to isolate yourself from allergens in all possible ways . To do this, you need to adhere to a strict diet and carefully monitor the environment: cleanliness in the house, what, when and where it blooms, where you can walk and where you cant.
According to this diet, you should not eat foods such as:
- citrus fruits
- dried fruit compote without raisins
If you eat only what is allowed, then the diet turns out to be extremely meager, which is very, very wrong during pregnancy since the child needs a large amount of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, which he or she will receive only with a balanced mothers diet. What to do? The answer is simple and obvious. If you know exactly what foods are causing your allergies, then simply eliminate them from your diet. If you dont have allergies, then just eat in moderation and avoid fatty, salty, starchy foods, fried, smoked, sweet, and high-calorie foods. Starting from the 22nd week, it is especially recommended to avoid everything that was listed in the previous sentence.
How else can you exclude contact with an allergen? There are a number of simple rules and if you follow them, you and your child will be safe.
If you smoke, then its time to give up this bad habit. You should also avoid secondhand smoke, i.e. inhalation of tobacco smoke. Limit yourself in alcohol and take care of yourself from all sorts of stress.
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Skin Rashes Cuts Scrapes
Rashes and itchy skin can be treated with OTC hydrocortisone cream during pregnancy. But mention these symptoms to your doctor to rule out conditions like pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy . You doctor may prescribe steroidal creams for certain conditions.
For cuts and scrapes, clean the area well with soap and water. You may then apply an OTC antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin, for added protection.
Immunotherapy And Influenza Vaccine
Allergen immunotherapy is often effective for those patients in whom symptoms persist despite optimal environmental control and proper drug therapy. Allergen immunotherapy can be carefully continued during pregnancy in patients who are benefiting and not experiencing adverse reactions. Due to the greater risk of anaphylaxis with increasing doses of immunotherapy and a delay of several months before it becomes effective, it is generally recommended that this therapy not be started during pregnancy.
Patients receiving immunotherapy during pregnancy should be carefully evaluated. It may be appropriate to lower the dosage in order to further reduce the chance of an allergic reaction to the injections.
Influenza vaccine is recommended for all patients with moderate and severe asthma. There is no evidence of associated risk to the mother or fetus.
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Can Nasal Spray Cause Birth Defects
A first-line medication for allergies during pregnancy would have the most research showing two things: that the drug is effective and that it does not cause birth defects when used during pregnancy. First-line medications used to treat nasal allergies in pregnant women include: cromolyn
Is It Really Allergies
Rhinitis is inflammation of the mucous membranes in your nose. It’s usually caused by allergies or a viral illness like the common cold.
But it can also strike when you’re pregnantâand it has nothing to do with allergies or acute illness.
Research shows this pregnancy rhinitis affects between 20% and 40% of pregnancies. Symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
Researchers suspect hormonal changes in pregnancy make some mucus-producing glands more active.
Also, your blood volume increases during pregnancy. That means blood vessels widen and take up more space. In a tight space like nasal passages, this can lead to allergy-like symptoms.
A healthcare provider uses the following criteria to diagnose pregnancy rhinitis:
- Symptoms are present during the last six or more weeks of pregnancy
- There are no signs of a respiratory tract infection
- There is no known allergic cause
- Symptoms disappear in the two weeks after delivery
If you have rhinitis symptoms but antihistamines aren’t helping, this may be why. Talk to your healthcare provider about the possibility of pregnancy rhinitis.
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What Can I Do For My Allergies While Pregnant
If youre looking for ways to prevent your allergies from cropping up in the first place or ideas for some drug-free remedies you can try, weve got a few tips for you.
- Identify and stay away from your triggers. Although its not always easy, try to steer clear of anything that may set you off. No matter how adorable that cat is, it may be best not to pet it right now.
- Drink lots of fluids. Staying hydrated can help you to feel better.
- Make your own saline nose drops. One cup of warm water, teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of baking soda gives you a saline solution you can use to flush out your nose.
- Get moving. Did you know that a little exercise might help ease your allergies? Its worth a shot!
- Sleep with your head raised slightly. Sleeping with your head at 25 to 30 degrees can help. A pregnancy pillow might become your new best friend here.
We hope youre on the mend soon, mama.
More from The 411:
Safe Otc Allergy Meds To Take During Pregnancy
These over-the-counter allergy meds have no known harmful effects during pregnancy when you take them according to the package directions.
Note: Do not take the ‘D’ forms of these medications in your first trimester.
Check with your doctor before taking any medicines during your pregnancy. Be especially cautious in the first trimester, a crucial time for your baby’s development.
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How To Take Antihistamines
Take your medicine as advised by the pharmacist or doctor, or as described in the leaflet that comes with it.
Before taking an antihistamine, you should know:
- how to take it including whether it needs to be taken with water or food, or how to use it correctly
- how much to take this can vary depending on things such as your age and weight
- when to take it including how many times a day you can take it and when to take it
- how long to take it for some types can be used for a long time, but some are only recommended for a few days
- what to do if you miss a dose or take too much
The advice varies depending on the exact medicine you’re taking. If you’re not sure how to take your medicine, ask a pharmacist.
What If Nothing Works
The last line of defense for all allergy sufferers is allergen immunotherapy. This can be in the form of allergy shots or tablets that dissolve under the tongue. Immunotherapy has been shown to be effective in adults and older children, and particularly in preventing allergic asthma. While women may not start immunotherapy during pregnancy, you may be able to continue the treatment during pregnancy if your provider tells you it’s OK to do so. If you’ve tried other medications and they didn’t relieve your allergies, see your healthcare provider. They may refer you to a specialist for allergen immunotherapy.
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Which Drugs Are Safe Or Unsafe
Violetta Shamilova, PharmD, is a board-certified pharmacist and assistant professor at Touro College in New York.
You may need to keep taking prescription drugs during pregnancy. Stopping a medically necessary medication could endanger both you and your baby. Still, it’s smart to be concerned about how a drug might affect a growing fetus.
Different drugs carry different risks. Your comfort is also an important thing to consider. Allergies can be miserable, and medication can help keep allergy symptoms at bay.
This article looks at the safety and use of different allergy medications during pregnancy.
How To Prevent Allergies During Pregnancy
Wondering what you can do for allergies during pregnancy besides taking medicine? In general, the best defense is a good offense. Try these tips to prevent or alleviate allergy symptoms while you’re expecting:
- Stay away from people who are smoking. Smoke can make allergies worse, and exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy isn’t good for you or your baby.
- If youre allergic to pollen: Try to stay inside where theres filtered, air-conditioned air. If you do go outside, try wearing wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. When you come back inside, take off your shoes, wash your hands and face, and change clothes so the pollen doesn’t stay with you. Showering and washing your hair before you go to sleep can also help relieve nighttime symptoms.
- If youre allergic to dust: Heres your excuse to get someone else to do the cleaning for you! Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, a wet mop or a sweeper to avoid stirring up dust. A microfiber cloth is better than a traditional feather duster. Also try to stay away from attics, basements and other musty places.
- If youre allergic to pets: Let your dog- and cat-owning friends know of your allergy before you drop by, so they have time to make arrangements .
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Can I Take Allergy Medication While Pregnant
Ah, allergies. Unless you have them, very few people can appreciate how awful they can be. So if you need to take allergy medication during pregnancy you can imagine how uptight some people get about it and wonder why you dont just suffer through it. To these people I say, suck my snot.
Not unlike cold medication, the trick here is to take medication that has been around a long time. Nobody has ever raised their hand and said, use me and my unborn child as guinea pigs to test your fine medication, my good sir. so all the data has to be collected over years and years of medical findings to see if kids are growing seven belly buttons from a medication.
The ones that have been deemed low risk are Diphenhydramine and Loratadine. Some sites say Pseudoephedrine is okay if youre out of your first trimester, but a few other sites say to stay away from it all together. Im not sure if there is merit to this or they are just giving it the thumbs down on account of the first trimester iffyness.
Another interesting tidbit I found is that many women are prescribed antihistamines for morning sickness. Who knew?
There are quite a few non-medical, natural remedies out there as well.
As for nasal sprays, only saline nasal sprays have been given the thumbs up. Everybody gets really pissy about the good stuff like Otrivin because even though they havent be shown to cause birth defects, they havent be shown not to either.
Can Pregnancy Make Me More Sensitive To Hay Fever
Yes during pregnancy you may find that you are more sensitive to your allergy triggers and that they are more troublesome. While the exact reasons for this are not clear, it may be due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, and because during pregnancy your blood volume increases to support your growing baby.
If you do not have a history of allergy or hay fever and suddenly find you have symptoms, see your doctor to check for other conditions that may need to be treated.
Hay fever should not lead to serious breathing difficulties. If you feel you cant get enough air, your chest feels very tight, you are breathless, or you feel like youre being suffocated, seek medical advice immediately.
If you have unexplained breathing problems, especially if they are severe and come on quickly, call triple zero for an ambulance.
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When Should You See An Allergist
- If your symptoms make it hard to breathe or are otherwise interfering with your quality of life
- If your allergies are causing chronic sinus infections
- If you have allergies during a large part of the year
- When your OTC allergy medication isn’t working or is causing intolerable side effects
- If you have symptoms that might be asthma-related, like wheezing or coughing
Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant
Most pregnant women can take acetaminophen if their doctor gives them the thumbs-up. Its the most common pain reliever that doctors allow pregnant women to take. Some studies have found that about two-thirds of pregnant women in the U.S. take acetaminophen sometime during their nine-month stretch.
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Symptoms Of Allergies During Pregnancy
If you have an allergy like hay fever , you’ll likely experience the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes, skin and/or mouth
Hay fever often flares up at the start of spring and later in the summer or early fall. But it doesn’t always follow a predictable schedule, since it depends on the specific environmental allergens causing your sensitivity.
Other triggers like mold, dust and pet dander can cause allergic reactions at various times of the year.
Can You Take Allergy Medications When Pregnant
Check with your practitioner to see what medications you can safely take during pregnancy. That goes even if you were already regularly taking prescription, over-the-counter or homeopathic medications: Don’t continue to use any of them until you get the go-ahead from a practitioner, who should be the first and final word on any allergy treatments you use.
That said, there are some general do’s and don’ts about allergy medications during pregnancy:
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How To Safely Take Your Medicine During Pregnancy
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Never take any medication, supplement or herbal remedy without checking with your health care provider first. A few more tips to keep in mind:
If you have questions about how or when to take a medication, always talk to your practitioner first.
Figuring out what’s safe and what’s not safe to take during pregnancy can be difficult. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone.