allergy woman suffering pregnancy

What is an allergy?

An allergy happens when a person's reacts to substances known as allergens in the environment that are harmless to most people. These substances are found in many places such as dust mites, pets, pollen, insects, ticks, moulds, foods and some medications.

Atopy, on the other hand, is the genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases. When atopic people are exposed to allergens they can develop an immune reaction that leads to allergic inflammation.

Where can allergies occur?

An allergy can potentially cause certain symptoms in the following body parts and areas:

  • Skin resulting in eczema, or hives (urticaria).
  • Nose and/or eyes, resulting in allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and/or conjunctivitis.
  • Lungs resulting in asthma.

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 (such as pollen) 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 (redness and sweliing) 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.

What about pregnancy and allergy?

Women who suffer from allergies may find that:

  1. they get better,
  2. stay the same, or
  3. feel even worse in pregnancy

Each individual's response is different. Symptoms are not life-threatening but can interfere with a good night's sleep and leave you feeling miserable. If you know what you're allergic to and are pregnant, try to avoid that thing (or things) rather than taking lots of medications. It also helps to decrease exposure to cigarette smoke and other known environmental irritants. If this isn't practical, however, keep in mind that some medications are safer to use than others while you are expecting.

It's not unusual for women who did not previously have allergies to suffer from nasal congestion while pregnant, as the hormones of pregnancy can cause swelling of the nasal passages and increased mucus production. In these cases, symptoms typically are worst in the second trimester and resolve within a few days after childbirth.

Does the allergy affect the baby?

If you have an allergic reaction that affects the skin, such as a rash or hives, this will have no affect on your developing baby. You can even usually cure the problem with over-the-counter antihistamines, but always check with your health care provider before trying any new medication during your gestation.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing symptoms that affect your respiration, such as shortness of breath, wheezing or throat swelling, the lack of oxygen could have serious effects on your baby. In this case, it is vital that you seek medical attention immediately to avoid causing lifelong damage to your child.

Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of reaction to allergens, and it could be fatal. Amazingly, babies in the womb are actually able to protect themselves for a short time against maternal anaphylaxis by naturally producing the histamines that they are being deprived of. However, since anaphylaxis is potentially fatal, you should seek medical attention immediately to save both yourself and your baby.

If you know that you are at risk for a severe allergic reaction to any type of food or material, make sure you speak with your doctor about safety precautions during pregnancy. S/he might even suggest that you keep an inhaler or dose of epinephrine on you just in case there is a problem. While mild allergic reactions will not have any effect on your baby, severe ones could turn into a matter of life and death for you and your baby. Though you can’t stop your allergies, being prepared is the next best thing.

Seeking Relief

In general, it's best to avoid exposing a fetus to medications, especially in the first trimester when its organs are forming, but sometimes drugs are necessary either for medical reasons or to provide relief from symptoms. (For more information, see the article Medications in Pregnancy: General Principles, which includes how to understand the FDA safety classes for medicines.)

What allergy relief is safe in pregnancy?

Suffering from allergies during pregnancy is never a fun experience. Not only do you have all the pregnancy related aches and pains, but your nose feels like someone stuffed it with cotton and you’re constantly sneezing. Some allergy medications are considered safe for use during pregnancy, but it’s always the best idea to talk with your obstetrician before taking any medication – either over the counter or prescription. Medications are categorized based upon safety during pregnancy and your obstetrician will be able to talk with you about the categories and which medications are best for your symptoms.

Allergy medications approved for use during pregnancy

When it comes to choosing allergy medications that are safe for use during pregnancy, you are looking for an ingredient not necessarily a name brand. The allergy medications considered safe for use during pregnancy include: 

If you are unfamiliar with these allergy medication ingredients, take a look at the ingredient label of name brand allergy medications like Benadryl, Alavert and Claritin.

Reliving allergy symptoms naturally

Even if you are given the go-ahead to take over the counter allergy medication during pregnancy, you may still suffer some mild allergy symptoms. Try some natural methods of reducing allergy symptoms that are safe for use in addition to allergy medications.

  • Stay away from the cause of your allergy. Staying inside during the height of allergy season may not seem like the ideal choice, but if it means avoiding pollen and other outdoor allergens, you may consider spending more time indoors.
  • Stock up on saline spray. Saline spray is nothing more than salt water. You can use saline spray during pregnancy to loosen nasal congestion in addition to taking allergy medications. 
  • Try to move a little more during the day. Believe it or not, exercise is a great natural treatment for nasal congestion and stuffiness. Make sure to talk with your obstetrician about exercising during pregnancy before choosing a new activity as not all exercise is safe during pregnancy.

Allergy symptoms during pregnancy are common and some allergy medications are completely safe for use during pregnancy. However, you need to talk with your physician before taking allergy medications or any other medication while pregnant. There are over the counter and prescription medications associated with negative side effects and fetal harm, so don’t take anything unless your doctor knows and you’ve discussed the safety of the medication.

Suffering from allergies during pregnancy is never a fun experience. Not only do you have all the pregnancy related aches and pains, but your nose feels like someone stuffed it with cotton and you’re constantly sneezing. Some allergy medications are considered safe for use during pregnancy, but it’s always the best idea to talk with your obstetrician before taking any medication – either over the counter or prescription. Medications are categorized based upon safety during pregnancy and your obstetrician will be able to talk with you about the categories and which medications are best for your symptoms.

Allergy medications approved for use during pregnancy

When it comes to choosing allergy medications that are safe for use during pregnancy, you are looking for an ingredient not necessarily a name brand. The allergy medications considered safe for use during pregnancy include: 

If you are unfamiliar with these allergy medication ingredients, take a look at the ingredient label of name brand allergy medications like Benadryl, Alavert and Claritin.

Reliving allergy symptoms naturally

Even if you are given the go-ahead to take over the counter allergy medication during pregnancy, you may still suffer some mild allergy symptoms. Try some natural methods of reducing allergy symptoms that are safe for use in addition to allergy medications.

  • Stay away from the cause of your allergy. Staying inside during the height of allergy season may not seem like the ideal choice, but if it means avoiding pollen and other outdoor allergens, you may consider spending more time indoors.
  • Stock up on saline spray. Saline spray is nothing more than salt water. You can use saline spray during pregnancy to loosen nasal congestion in addition to taking allergy medications. 
  • Try to move a little more during the day. Believe it or not, exercise is a great natural treatment for nasal congestion and stuffiness. Make sure to talk with your obstetrician about exercising during pregnancy before choosing a new activity as not all exercise is safe during pregnancy.

Allergy symptoms during pregnancy are common and some allergy medications are completely safe for use during pregnancy. However, you need to talk with your physician before taking allergy medications or any other medication while pregnant. There are over the counter and prescription medications associated with negative side effects and fetal harm, so don’t take anything unless your doctor knows and you’ve discussed the safety of the medication.

Allergy Prevention Medicines: Mast Cell Stabilizers

Cromolyn sodium helps prevent allergic reactions. It is available by prescription in eyedrops, nasal sprays, and inhalers. It falls into FDA category B and is considered safe in pregnancy. The brand name for these products includes Intal inhalers, Nasalcrom nose spray, and Crolom eyedrops.

Allergy Prevention and Treatment

 

  • Steroids
    Inhalant steroids are often used to treat asthma, and nasal steroids are used for environmental allergies. These are category C for use in pregnancy, which means they should be used only if the benefits outweigh potential risks. Although no human data are available regarding the intranasal use of topical steroids in pregnancy, beclomethasone (brand names Beconase and Vancenase) has been used for many years without apparent problems.
  • Over-the-counter Antihistamines
    Chlorpheniramine (Chlortrimetron), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are both category B. Common side effects are sleepiness and a dry mouth. Loratadine (Claritin) is also category B and may be less sedating than the older antihistamines.
  • Prescription Antihistamines
    While fexofenadine (Allegra) is category C, cetirizine (Zyrtec) falls into the B class and therefore is considered safer to use. Claritin and Zyrtec also may be less sedating than the older antihistamines. If you suffer from severe allergies, ask your practitioner for a recommendation.
  • Allergy Shots
    While there is no evidence that allergy shots are unsafe in pregnancy, experts don't recommend that expectant mothers start this treatment. If you're already on desensitization shots, you can usually remain at your current dose but not advance on the shot schedule until after delivery. Ask your physician for further information.
  • Decongestants
    This group of medications is used to treat colds or allergies. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), a category C drug, can be bought over the counter and is also present in antihistamines and cold remedies that say they contain a decongestant. These medications are not recommended for anyone who has high blood pressure, pregnant or not. If possible, avoid taking pseudoephedrine in the first trimester.
  • What allergy medications are safe during pregnancy?

From: Dr.Spock.com