Battling Spring Allergies While Pregnant
March 18, 2021As an expecting mom, you likely contend with at least a little discomfort every day. Achy back, swollen feet, nausea … the list goes on. You definitely don’t need anything else to wreak havoc on your body. When hay fever season hits, here are some ways to combat your sneezes, sniffles, and discomfort that won’t cause harm to you or your baby.
Seasonal Allergies & Pregnancy
The typical season for seasonal allergies is spring, but technically hay fever season runs from August to October. So, in reality, almost half the year is “allergy season.”1 During these months, you may experience itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion, sinus discomfort, sneezing, runny nose, and a general feeling of malaise. While many people fight seasonal allergies with over-the-counter medication, women who are pregnant may need to be extra cautious about what they’re putting in their bodies.
While some medications are considered safe for pregnancy (always consult your doctor before taking any medication), not every drug is suitable for an expecting mom. Instead of going right for the allergy pills, consider a few natural remedies that may provide relief.
Your first line of defense against seasonal allergies is adjusting your environment and avoiding exposure to allergens. Whenever possible, avoid being outdoors on days when pollen counts are high.
Also, pay attention to the air quality in your home. Make sure you change your air filters regularly. You may also want to invest in an indoor electric air purifier. These can be expensive but are effective when used correctly. We recommend shopping around to find one that fits your budget, but make sure whichever purifier you choose uses a HEPA filter. Studies have shown that HEPA filters can reduce particulate matter in the air by 50% or more.3
If you’re looking for a drug-free remedy for sinus congestion due to allergies, a sinus rinse or neti pot may work. A neti pot is a small container with a spout designed specifically for nasal rinsing. You can find them and nasal rinsing kits at most drugstores or grocery stores. Remember, when making the saline irrigation solution that you’ll need for nasal rinsing, use water that is distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller.2
Consuming local honey has been said to help prevent the aggravating symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, but this is purely anecdotal. So far, there has been no scientific evidence to support the claim that consuming honey can prevent, treat, or cure seasonal allergies.
Despite the lack of scientific proof, the idea that honey could help ease allergies isn’t entirely out of left field. Honey may have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as a cough suppressant, so it stands to reason that people associate it with helping soothe certain allergy symptoms. Additionally, honey can contain traces of local pollen. Since pollen is an allergen, repeated exposure in small doses may help lessen a person’s reaction over time. But as of now, this hasn’t been able to be confirmed through scientific research. Therefore, any comfort that honey provides is more likely due to a placebo effect.4
When you’ve made all the environmental changes you can and are already avoiding exposure as much as possible, the next step in fighting seasonal allergies is medication.*
Nasal sprays are generally safe to use during pregnancy. According to health experts, cromolyn sodium nasal spray can ease allergy symptoms and does not have serious side effects. However, it’s most effective when you begin using it before the onset of symptoms.
Oral decongestants and nasal sprays can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Nasal decongestants can be effective, but they should only be used for a few days in a row. Prolonged use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms.
Oral antihistamines are another common allergy medication. Antihistamines can provide relief from all the typical seasonal allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a runny nose. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
If your symptoms are severe, or if they are life-threatening, your doctor will most likely give you a prescription allergy medication, as well as an emergency epinephrine auto-injector, otherwise known as an EpiPen. These devices are used to prevent a person from going into anaphylaxis, a condition where the airways and respiratory system become swollen from an acute allergic reaction.5 Your doctor may also refer you to an allergy specialist, who will probably conduct an allergy test to see which specific allergens you are most sensitive to.
Although allergies aren’t fun, they are usually not life-threatening and can be easily managed with any of the remedies mentioned above. If you have any questions or concerns about your seasonal allergies and how treating them can affect your pregnancy, talk to your doctor.
*Always talk to your physician before starting any type of allergy treatment, especially any medication or supplement.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is brought to you by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.