Women are said to be more prone to seasonal allergies when pregnant. This may be due to hormonal changes that are usually associated with pregnancy. Allergy symptoms may not just be uncomfortable for pregnant women, but they may also be harmful to a fetus–especially when it escalates to severe complications. Managing seasonal allergies during pregnancy does not only involve treatments, but more importantly, it involves prevention.
Allergy Medications During Pregnancy
It is always best to avoid any kind of medications during pregnancy. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), no drugs are considered completely safe. The reason for this is that no pregnant woman would subject herself and her baby to the risks associated with drug trials.
The FDA has categorized medicines based on their effects on pregnant women. Category A and B are considered the safest medications. The new antihistamines that are relatively safe for pregnant women are loratadine (Claritin/Alavert) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). They are category B medications. For decongestants, pseudoephedrine such as Sudafed is the preferred oral decongestant for pregnant women. However, pseudoephedrine is not recommended for pregnant women during their first trimester because it has been linked to infant gastroschisis–a birth defect wherein an infant’s intestines develop outside the abdomen. A safer way to treat a mild nasal congestion is through nasal saline, which is basically just salt water.
Another option to consider in the treatment of allergies is allergy shots or immunotherapy. There are no known harmful effects of allergy shots to pregnancy. The shots are prescribed and monitored by an allergist.
Pregnant women with seasonal allergy symptoms should discuss with their doctors the risks and benefits of the medication. Although some of the medicines are low risk, it is still better to be safe than sorry. If the seasonal allergy symptoms are severe and may potentially harm the fetus through several complications, it is best to weigh the benefits of medicating versus the risk involved.
Prevention is Better than the Cure
To avoid being in a dilemma of whether to medicate or not, experts suggest that pregnant women do everything they can to limit their exposure to seasonal allergens.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has suggested some tips to stay away from these allergens. One of the tips suggested is to always make sure windows are closed, whether in the house or out driving in the car. Another suggestion is to use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to maintain clean, dry air. It was also suggested that pregnant women stay indoors as much as possible when pollen count and humidity is high. It is also recommended that pregnant women maintain a healthy balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Pregnant women do not have to manage seasonal allergies alone. There are allergists and physicians who can be consulted for a more personalized expert opinion. This way, both the mother and her baby are not placed in any kind of danger.