Allergies During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Table of Contents

Allergies During Pregnancy

Table of Contents

Blame seasonal allergies if you can’t step outside without sneezing. Pregnancy can aggravate the symptoms of seasonal allergies because of the extra hormones. Adding an itchy nose to an itchy belly can be a reason for fatigue in your last trimester. Are you suspecting you have “rhinitis of pregnancy”? Check out these symptoms of seasonal allergies during pregnancy:

  • Runny nose
  • Itching
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing

Seasonal allergies during pregnancy and otherwise can slow down your breathing by causing nasal congestion. Fortunately, there are several treatments safe enough for a pregnant body to undergo to relieve these symptoms. Also, be super cautious of the treatments and medications you take when you are pregnant.

So, What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

The immune system of our bodies fights against colds, viruses, cases of flu, and other organisms that cause infections. At the same time, it reacts to things that are not necessarily harmful to you and such reactions are called seasonal allergies. As the name suggested, the allergies caused by allergens that show up during a particular season are called seasonal allergies. Here are some common culprits of seasonal allergies:

  • Tumbleweed
  • Trees
  • Ragweed
  • Pigweed
  • Molds
  • Grasses
  • Cocklebur

Depending on the place of your residence, seasonal allergies can pop up around February and end in the summers. During late summer, fall allergies happen and continue until late fall. Pregnancy worsens seasonal allergies and such a condition is called “rhinitis of pregnancy”. It has symptoms similar to seasonal allergies and occurs usually in your last trimester. Extra hormones aggravate seasonal allergies during pregnancy.

At-home Treatments for Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies can tire out mums-to-be with their fatigue-causing symptoms (plus, of course, the pregnancy) so here are some at-home treatments you can try to bring some relief:

  • Saline nasal spray: Create a saline nose spray by adding ¼ salt to 8 ounces of warm water. Pour this mixture into a squeeze or spray bottle to irrigate. More about neti pots coming up!
  • Check daily pollen counts: Get yourself acquainted with the daily pollen count on the news. If you see the count is too huge on a particular day avoid going outside to keep the exposure down. Avoid going out between 5 to 10 in the morning (this is the time of high pollen count).
  • Shower: Take showers and change your clothes if you go outside. This will remove pollen build-up from your clothes and hair if any.
  • Mask up: Wear a protective mask that filters out allergens while doing outdoor activities such as gardening or mowing the lawn.
  • Nasal strips: These are OTC strips that can be worn at night. It helps in positioning the nasal passages so that they remain open.

Allergies During Pregnancy: Does It Affect Your Baby?

You can have a safe and healthy pregnancy even if you have allergies. Your little human doesn’t notice a thing even if you feel pretty lousy (thanks to fatigue). Get in touch with your doctor about your symptoms and always consult before taking any medication. Even medicine you have been taking regularly before you were pregnant must be medically scrutinized.

Not everything is a green light when it comes to being pregnant. Try your best to steer clear of known triggers of allergies whenever possible. Yes, it is tricky when the culprit is grass or pollen but we have brought to you ways to keep yourself safe. Scroll down to know more!

Allergy Medicine During Pregnancy

Typically, women can take OTC allergy medicine during pregnancy by consulting their doctor. Here are some medically approved OTC medications for pregnant women:

  • Loratadine (Claritin)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

Doctors generally consider OTC allergy medicine safe during pregnancy but nasal spray decongestants or oral decongestants are not that well researched to be deemed safe. Nasal sprays can be safer than orally administered decongestants because they are not absorbed in the bloodstream.

Brands like Neo-Synephrine and Afrin have ingredients like oxymetazoline in their nasal sprays. Pregnant women should not use nasal sprays for more than 3 days because decongestants can worsen allergy symptoms and cause nasal swelling if used for a long time.

Allergy shots are another medical way to treat seasonal allergies. These are allergens that help in desensitizing a body to other allergens. While in the course of allergy shots, if you get pregnant you can keep getting them unless advised otherwise. However, it’s not a good time to start allergy shots when you are pregnant as it could aggravate the reactions. It’s best to get them after giving birth.

●       Fatal Allergy Medicines During Pregnancy

Since it is unethical to test on pregnant women, the effect of medications on a pregnant body has not yet been researched. Reports on such effects are from surveys about the safety of generic medicines.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI), several allergy medicines during pregnancy are not safe. In the 1st trimester, the potential benefits and risks involved must be considered as the baby’s development rate is high.

Here are some unsafe allergy meds during pregnancy:

  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed): Some studies have claimed that pseudoephedrine is safe during pregnancy but others report that abdominal wall defects have increased in babies if their mothers used this medicine while pregnant.
  • Phenylpropanolamine and phenylephrine: According to ACAAI, these are decongestants considered more harmful than pseudoephedrine.

Effects of Allergies During Pregnancy

Allergies happen when your body’s immune system reacts strongly to a particular substance that generally is harmless to your body. These substances are termed allergens and mainly they cause some mildly uncomfortable symptoms such as

  • Runny nose
  • Skin irritation
  • Sneezing
  • Itching
  • Coughing

Treating Fatigues Caused by Allergies

Brain fog can be tiring and being pregnant just adds to this fatigue. To properly treat allergies during pregnancy you need to stop the cycle of allergic symptoms and fatigue. Here’s what you can do:

1. Identify Your Allergens

The first step in the treatment of seasonal allergies during pregnancy is to get rid of brain fog by finding out what was causing it. If you are unable to find out what is causing those allergies, you must go to a healthcare professional and get yourself checked. Remember the professional needs to be a specialist in allergies. Common tests for allergies include:

  • Physical exam: This test involves looking for physical signs of allergies such as breathing issues, nasal blockages, skin irritation, etc.
  • Blood tests: If you are having an allergic reaction, your blood will have some cells that show that you are sensitive to certain allergens.
  • Skin tests: In this test, the doctor will prick your skin with a needle and expose you to a small amount of allergen. If you are allergic to it, your skin will develop a bump right where the allergen was introduced. It will also determine if you have a skin allergy during pregnancy.

2. Limit Exposure to Potential Allergens

Once you figure out the allergens causing your symptoms, you can try reducing exposure to them. For example, you can stay indoors on days when the pollen count is high if you are allergic to pollen. You can check on the news for this data or even online weather updates will inform you of the same.

Keep your windows closed if you have air conditioning. If you go outdoors, remember to shower and change your clothing when you come inside to remove potential allergens.

3. Take Your Allergy Medicines

There are several medications for allergies on the market, most of which are specific to certain allergens. But what allergy medicine is safe during pregnancy? There are a few that are generalized but your best bet is to take antihistamines. These are medications that reduce swelling, fatigue, and other symptoms of allergies.

Still, the best way to reduce your symptoms of allergies is to stay away from allergens. Remember that antihistamines also cause fatigue so if you want to stay awake during the day, it’s best to take non-drowsy antihistamines (such as Claritin). But if you are having trouble sleeping at night due to the symptoms, taking this medicine at night will help as it induces drowsiness. Benadryl is one such antihistamine that causes drowsiness.

Nasal sprays (such as Flonase) can also treat allergic symptoms. They are available OTC as well as prescription medicines but they don’t usually cause drowsiness. Always check the label of any medicine you are taking to be sure.

4. Try Allergy Shots

The strongest type of treatment for allergies is getting allergy shots. It involves taking small doses of injections containing allergens. This helps your body become less reactive to them over time which means you become less likely to react to allergies.

Allergy shots also reduce fatigue because of their non-drowsy and fast relief. However, if you haven’t yet taken any allergy shots, starting to take them during your pregnancy is not a good idea because of all the extra hormones. Talk to your doctor about what allergy ghost would work better for you.

5. Try a Neti Pot

A neti pot is a device that can be filled with saline solution. This is then poured through one nose which clears the nasal passage. It also reduces nasal swelling which is a classic symptom of allergies. Plus, reduced fatigue is a bonus!

Food Allergies During Pregnancy

Wondering if peanut butter is safe for the little one inside you? Here’s the good news: Researchers are suggesting that eating peanuts during your pregnancy cannot trigger any food allergies in your baby-to-be (in fact, it prevents by boosting their immunity).

As long as you don’t have an allergy to peanuts, there’s no reading why you shouldn’t eat them while expecting. The same goes for dairy products and other potentially allergenic foods. If you have food allergies and are confused about what to eat to maintain your health during pregnancy, get in touch with a doctor and/or an allergist to figure out your diet. The recommendations might slightly be different for your baby and your.

The Bottom Line

Allergies cause coughing, runny nose, itchiness, sneezing, and other unpleasant symptoms. They are annoying even without throwing fatigue in the mix. Its symptoms often take away your sleep at night leaving you tired throughout the day. Brain fog can make it hard to function at work, school, and other daily activities.

But what’s the good news? There are several ways you can get relief from allergies. The first step is finding out what causes these icky symptoms. Then work out with your doctor how to fight them and prevent them from entering your body. They will suggest to you treatment options that will keep you safe.

Allergies During Pregnancy FAQs:

1. How do allergies cause fatigue?

Most people with a headache and stuffy nose caused by allergies cannot sleep peacefully. Allergic reactions also release certain chemicals in the body to fight the allergies that make you feel tired and swell up your nasal tissues. These symptoms cause fatigue termed by experts as “brain fog”.

2. Can pregnancy cause allergies?

Being pregnant can worsen your seasonal allergies. This is also called the “rhinitis of pregnancy” and has similar effects on the body as that of seasonal allergies. Typically occurring during the first and last trimester, “rhinitis of pregnancy” is mainly caused by those extra hormones and not allergens.

3. How long do allergies during pregnancy last?

Rhinitis of pregnancy can occur at any time during pregnancy but typically occurs during the last and first trimester. It lasts for about 6 weeks at the minimum but disappears completely within two weeks of childbirth.

4. Can allergies cause miscarriage?

Chronic clinical signs of allergies during pregnancy can decrease the quality of your life as it affects eating habits, use of medicines, and lifestyle. Such allergic diseases have been shown to cause delayed conception with an increased risk of miscarriage. It could also affect menstrual function.

5. How do you control your allergies during pregnancy?

Here’s a step-by-step care routine to prevent allergies during pregnancy:
  • Try to avoid potential allergy triggers as much as possible.
  • Use a saline nasal spray to ease congestion and improve breathing.
  • Keep clear of animals in your space, especially in your bedroom.
  • Vacuum your surroundings as much as possible to clean up allergic triggers.
  • Keep the humidity in your environment low by using the air conditioner.
  • Wash your hair if you have been outdoors if pollen is your allergic trigger.
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