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What Is Safe To Take For Allergies During Pregnancy

What Am I Allergic To

Ask The Doctor with Dr. Rene Leon – Is it safe to take allergy medications during pregnancy?

Its never easy to work out what you are reacting to during pregnancy because people can experience allergic reactions to anything.

Thankfully, you are more likely to suffer one of the most common allergies. Because of the way our immune systems work, these allergies are the most common of all:

  • Grass And Tree Pollen: Also known as hay fever, you react to the pollen released by grass and tree plants.
  • General Pollen: Can be confused for hay fever, but you will react to regular flowers too.
  • Dust Mites: These little invisible bugs live in dirty and dusty spaces and can cause all sorts of allergic reactions.
  • Animals: You are just as likely to be allergic to any animal, but because people keep dogs and cats, you are more likely to notice if you have a dog or cat allergy.
  • Foods: Nuts, fruits, shellfish, eggs, and the proteins in cows milk can all cause reactions, not just when you eat them but even when you touch them.
  • Insects: Some insect bites and stings can cause massive overreactions in your immune system.
  • Medications: You are more likely to be allergic to aspirin, ibuprofen, and antibiotics than any other medication.
  • Latex: Things like latex gloves or condoms may trigger latex allergies, which are very common.
  • Mold Spores: A bit like tree pollen, mold releases spores into the air to reproduce. Many people are allergic to them.
  • You could still be allergic to anything else, of course. But these are the most likely culprits if you suddenly have an allergy.

    What Happens When You Have An Allergic Reaction

    When a person who is allergic to a particular allergen comes into contact with it, an allergic reaction occurs:

    • When the allergen enters the body, it triggers an antibody response.
    • The antibodies attach themselves to mast cells.
    • When the pollen comes into contact with the antibodies, the mast cells respond by releasing histamine.
    • When the release of histamine is due to an allergen, the resulting inflammation is irritating and uncomfortable.
    • Similar reactions can occur to some chemicals and food additives. However if they do not involve the immune system, they are known as adverse reactions, not allergy.

    Safe Interventions For Rhinitis During Pregnancy

    Nonprescription products and devices for nasal problems during pregnancy can be divided into two groups. The first group does not carry any precaution for patients who are pregnant. These will be considered first.

    There are some interventions for rhinitis during pregnancy that the pharmacist can suggest.1,3 Pharmacists can reassure patients that the condition is temporary and will resolve after delivery. They can also mention several interventions that will help rhinitis and nasal congestion regardless of cause, such as controlling the environment and avoiding allergens.

    Lying in the supine position is widely known to increase nasal resistance to the passage of air. Thus, the pregnant patient can be advised to raise the head of the bed at least 30 degrees, and perhaps as much as 45 degrees to obtain greater patency of the nostrils. She may also be advised to engage in light-to-moderate exercise, an activity that also opens the nasal passages.

    Saline lavage may provide some relief for allergic or pregnancy rhinitis, and one expert advises either gently sniffing homemade saline from a cupped hand or using products such as neti pots to administer saline.1 Unfortunately, neither of these methods uses sterile saline, which would be preferable.6

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    What About Allergy Shots

    Allergy shots are safe for pregnant women IF they were already getting them before pregnancy. Healthline explains this is because it’s already established that the woman doesn’t have any adverse reaction to the allergy shots. It further explains that starting on allergy shots while pregnant is not advised because it is never known if the pregnant mom will have an allergic reaction to the shots. The risk of this in pregnancy outweighs the benefits of the allergy shots.

    Common Causes Of Hay Fever

    Allergies During Pregnancy (Causes &  Safe Treatments)

    You may feel the symptoms of hay fever at specific times of the year, when certain triggers, or allergens, are in the air. This is known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. The allergens might include pollens from trees, grasses, weeds, fungi or moulds. If you experience year-round symptoms known as perennial allergic rhinitis your triggers might include common household allergens such as dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, fungi or moulds.

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    How Can I Control My Allergies While Pregnant

  • If you experience allergy symptoms, try to avoid them.
  • If you have congestion, use saline nose spray.
  • Make sure your bedroom is not a breeding ground for animals.
  • Its a good idea to vacuum often
  • Make sure the house is free of irritants and humidity by using the air conditioner.
  • If you are allergic to pollen, you should shower and wash your hair after being outside.
  • 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.

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    Allergy Symptoms During Pregnancy

    If you’ve struggled with allergy symptoms in the past, they are likely to persist or even worsen while you’re pregnant. Some people experience allergy symptoms for the first time during pregnancy. Symptoms can include:

    There is also a phenomenon known as pregnancy rhinitis that causes allergy-like symptoms in pregnant people. Non-allergic rhinitis in pregnancy is likely due to fluctuating hormones and it typically resolves after you give birth. The symptoms may mimic allergies, but since they are non-allergic in nature, they do not respond to antihistamines.

    If you have allergy symptoms during pregnancy, you may be concerned about the safety of allergy medications. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Before taking any medication during pregnancy, discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare provider.

    I Hate Using Nasal Sprays Do I Have Other Options For Allergies During Pregnancy

    Treating Allergies During Pregnancy and Beyond

    Antihistamine pills like loratadine and cetirizine are popular allergy medications, but theyre less effective compared to the nasal steroid sprays. If you choose to take these, know that they are generally safe for use during pregnancy.

    You may also be familiar with the decongestant pseudoephedrine . If youre pregnant and in your first trimester, stay away from this. During your second and third trimester, it may be used if you dont have high blood pressure.

    Always check with your OB/GYN before taking any new medications.

    Dr. O

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    Is It Safe To Take Benadryl During Pregnancy

    When youre suffering from an allergic reaction, you want to take something to help relieve the symptoms. Pregnant people have used Benadryl routinely and safely as an antihistamine to block the effects of allergic reactions.

    Benadryl is generally safe to take during pregnancy. It is classified as a Category B medication by the Food and Drug Administration . This classification means the drug is believed to pose no risk to people taking the medication during pregnancy, and no risk to the baby as well.

    However, it doesnt mean that its completely risk-free. There are no controlled studies to show its definitely safe in pregnancy, says Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, an OB-GYN at NYU Langone Health and founder of Saving Mothers.

    Pregnant people still need to be cautious when taking the drug. Healthcare professionals advise to take Benadryl only when you need it for allergies since no medication is 100% safe to use during pregnancy, says Clinical Pharmacist Jerry Wong, PharmD, who has worked at Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Methodist Hospital. Benadryl should be used in the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible, he cautions.

    If your allergies are ongoing and you need relief beyond the occasional dose, speak to your physician. Don’t use any medication regularly in pregnancy unless prescribed by a physician, advises Dr. Shirazian.

    How Can I Manage My Hay Fever While Pregnant

    It’s important you take special care with your medicines during pregnancy since some may affect your unborn baby.

    One way to reduce your need for hay fever medicines, while keeping your baby safe, is to try to avoid any known triggers or allergens. This can be a challenge if you do not know what you are allergic to. Your doctor may refer you to an allergy clinic to help you find out whats causing your allergy symptoms.

    There are allergy medicines that are safe for you to take while you are pregnant, including some – but not all – antihistamine tablets and syrups, eye drops and nasal sprays, including corticosteroids and decongestants.

    Your pharmacist or doctor can advise you on what medicines you can take while pregnant to help with your hay fever symptoms while minimising the risk to your baby.

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    Which Allergy Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy

    Can you take Benadryl while pregnant? What about Claitan? Heres the scoop on whats safe for pregnancy, so you dont have to suffer from a stuffy nose and itchy eyes in silence!

    While many women report that their allergies improve or disappear during pregnancy, some still experience symptoms. If you’re among them, you should know that there plenty of ways to relieve symptoms both with and without medication.

    Your best defense against allergy symptoms is to avoid the triggers that cause them. Of course, you can’t control what happens outside, but you can reduce your exposure in your home by wearing a mask when you dust or vacuum, keeping pets out of your bedroom, and protecting your mattress and pillows with special covers to keep out dust mites. Using a dehumidifier to keep the air in your home under 50 percent humidity can also help fend off mites and mold.

    Its always best to avoid taking any type of medication during pregnancy, if possible. That said, if allergies or nasal congestion due to upper-respiratory infection are keeping you from sleeping, eating, or participating fully in your life, your doctor is likely to consider Claritin to help you cope with your symptoms. Rest assured that after years of research on animals and humans, Claritin has been classified as safe to use during pregnancy. Antihistamines like Chlor-Trimeton and Benadryl are also deemed safe for pregnant women to take.

    Can Pregnancy Make Me More Sensitive To Hay Fever

    Allergy Medicines During Pregnancy

    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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    About Antihistamines And This Study

    About antihistamines

    Antihistamines include both prescription and over-the-counter medications. They typically are used to treat

    • Asthma and/or allergies
    • Indigestion .

    About 10-15% of women report taking antihistamines during pregnancy.

    About this study

    Researchers reviewed more than 50 published scientific articles that looked at the link between antihistamine use during pregnancy and birth defects. They evaluated the articles based on certain criteria: how researchers selected their study populations, how researchers determined antihistamine use in pregnancy, and how researchers identified babies with birth defects.

    Do Allergies Get Worse During Pregnancy

    It depends on the woman and the severity of allergies during pregnancy. About one-third of moms-to-be find their allergy symptoms tend to worsen during pregnancy. Another one-third find their allergy symptoms stay the same. And another one-third find their allergy symptoms actually improve during pregnancy.

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    How Might Allergies Affect Your Pregnancy And Baby

    If you have allergies, you can definitely have a safe, healthy pregnancy. In fact, your baby likely won’t notice a thing in there, even if you’re feeling pretty lousy.

    Tell your doctor about your symptoms, and always check before using any medication even those you were regularly taking before conceiving .

    Also, try as best as you can to steer clear of known allergy triggers when possible .

    Safe Medications And Vitamins

    Can allergic rhinitis affect pregnancy? – Dr. Sreenivasa Murthy T M

    Vitamins and food supplements are essential for the proper development of a fetus. Your obstetrician or midwife will indicate which are the most favorable for your pregnancy.

    Still, the most commonly taken ones during the gestation period are vitamin C, for the proper formation of babys blood vessels folic acid, for the production of red blood cells vitamin D, to produce healthy teeth and bone tissue, and iron, to nourish the development of the baby and the placenta.

    However, although vitamins are available over the counter in pharmacies, dont overdose, more doesnt mean better. Further, you mainly eliminate them through your urine and so you wouldnt only waste vitamins but also money. You can get plenty of vitamins through various food sources and these provide higher quality.

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    What Medicines Can I Take For Allergies During Pregnancy

    Women should be very cautious when taking medications during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.

    Its important to talk with a doctor before using allergy medicine while pregnant. Work together to find an appropriate balance for the medication and symptom control.

    Your doctor may first recommend ways to reduce symptoms that dont involve medications. Strategies include allergy proofing your home, avoiding allergy triggers, or using a saline nasal spray, nasal irrigation or nasal strips.

    • Oral antihistamines treat nasal and eye allergy symptoms of allergic rhinitis. It is best to take them after the first trimester.
    • Loratadine and cetirizine are second-generation oral antihistamines. They are considered safe for pregnancy, according to multiple studies. They do not cause drowsiness unlike first-generation oral antihistamines .

    Avoid using antihistamines combined with a decongestant during pregnancy. Research is ongoing on the impact of these medications to mom and baby.

    Whats Safeand Not So Safeto Use In Your Pregnant Patients

    Cover Feature: Allergy

    EyeWorld Contributing Editor

    Ophthalmologists must navigate through uncharted areas when they treat their pregnant patients.

    My general rule of thumb in patients who are pregnant is to use the least amount of medication possible, even if I think the medications are safe, said Christopher J. Rapuano, M.D., professor of ophthalmology, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and co-director, Cornea Service, Wills Eye Institute, Philadelphia.

    My second rule of thumb is to call the obstetrician and check with him on medications I think the patient needs to be on, Dr. Rapuano said.

    Practitioners said they would prefer to avoid the medicolegal risks that would accompany a child born with defects or other problems, which might cause a patient to wonder if the ophthalmic medication she used during pregnancy led to the childs problem.

    Practitioners generally follow the same guidelines while the patient is nursing, although they said they do not need to adhere as strictly to them. Although there is a dearth of research on the effects of ophthalmic medications during pregnancy, physicians take a cautious approach instead of waiting for such studies to be done.

    These studies are hard to do, and theyre risky, Dr. Rapuano said. An animal study may or may not translate perfectly to humans. And these studies are not cost effective because pregnant patients make up such a small portion of the population.

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    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.

    Dry Eye And Allergies

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    Dry eye can be an issue in pregnant patients who wear contact lenses and in those who experience nausea and vomiting, said John D. Sheppard, M.D., professor of ophthalmology, microbiology, and immunology, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk. The nausea and vomiting lead to dehydration, which can lead to drier eyes, he said. Certain medications that patients may take to inhibit nausea can also contribute to dry eye, he said. Practitioners seem to agree that artificial tear drops are a safe treatment option to lubricate the eyes. Another easy solution is asking patients to reduce contact lens wear or not wear them at all.

    Beyond those easier steps, everyone has different ideas.

    Dr. Sheppard said he leans more toward the natural route to treat pregnant dry-eye patients. This includes supplements such as fish oil, flaxseed oil, and black currant seed oil. Preliminary research and anecdotal evidence shows that omega-3 acids found in these supplements can help the ocular surface.

    He uses silicone or plastic punctal plugs as well, an option that Dr. Davis also thinks is reasonable. Punctal plugs and lubricant drops would be the mainstay of my treatment, she said.

    Restasis , which is frequently used now to treat dry eye, may or may not be a good option for pregnant patients, physicians said.

    However, Id take the patient off the Restasis, not because I think its unsafe but because it is cyclosporine and as far as I know, its not been tested , Dr. Rapuano said.

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