Allergy Medications And Pregnancy: How Safe Are They?
This article will discuss whether allergy medications are safe or not during pregnancy and more.
When you have lived with seasonal allergies, no one understands the necessary pain of taking numerous pills to ease the symptoms better than you. Unfortunately, if you are pregnant, your “can and cannot” also changes drastically, and so does your daily medications to keep your allergies in control.
Suppose you are already expecting or are planning to get pregnant. In that case, it is advised that you talk with a medical expert about your prescribed medications and if they are safe to continue during your pregnancy. Even though most allergy medications are safe to consume even during pregnancy, it is always safe to take an expert opinion on your prescriptions.
It is difficult to predict the uncertain and sometimes dangerous side effects of your medications on your baby’s health and yourself. Furthermore, it takes time and patience to do deep research, takes expert advice, and learn what is safe and harmful to you.
Allergies: Definition And Types
Allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system hypersensitivity, resulting in many immunological consequences in the body. Many people suffer from various allergies, be it from pollen, animal dander, dust, mold, latex, or different food items such as milk products, nuts, soy, etc.
Although such allergies can be kept under control through various allergic medications and allergic shots, there might come the point wherein your body becomes immune to the medicines themselves. Furthermore, pregnant women who suffer from such allergic reactions need to be extra cautious as with a change in their bodies comes a difference in their diet and medications.
But, focusing on the bright side, researchers have determined that at least one-third of women find their allergic symptoms clear up during pregnancy. Even if your allergic symptoms are mild to severe during pregnancy, it is implausible that they would affect your baby in any way.
Furthermore, studies have determined that if the mother follows a healthy balanced diet and intakes five portions of vegetables and fruits, the risk of their offspring to inherit or develop any allergies reduces by 40%
How To Manage Allergic Symptoms?
1. Avoid allergy triggers as much as possible: Environmental and natural allergens such as mold, pollen, dust are most often the reasons for allergies. Thus, it is advised that one must keep safe and avoid such danders as much as possible. Furthermore, when pollution is high outside, one must stay indoors.
2. Consider treating mild symptoms with home remedies: Nasal congestion is the most common factor of allergic reactions. Using a humidifier at home is an excellent option as it moistens the air in your house and soothes the nasal passage. Other remedies like saline nasal spray can also come in handy to treat nasal congestion.
Gargling with salt water or drinking lemon and honey products may also help to ease a sore throat. However, avoid throat gargles containing iodine because it may affect the thyroid function of both you and your baby.
3. Over-the-counter allergy medications: Antihistamine is a drug consumed to block the effects of histamine, which triggers various allergic symptoms in the human body. They are considered the most popular and effective way to treat allergic symptoms among pregnant women as they do not negatively affect their health.
Antihistamines are classified into two types: first-generation sedating antihistamines and second-generation nonsedating antihistamines. First-generation drugs include diphenhydramine (found in Benadryl), chlorpheniramine and hydroxyzine, and are considered safe to consume during pregnancy.
Second-generation antihistamines such as loratadine (found in Claritin), fexofenadine (found in Allegra), and cetirizine (found in Alleroff) although are prescribed widely by medical experts, there is still some weariness regarding their uses as their side effects on pregnant women have not been studied in great detail.
4. Nasal spray and nasal irrigation: Nasal sprays contain cromolyn sodium (found in Nasalcrom). Although they are considered safe, you must always consult a doctor before using them. A benefit of using a nasal spray is that instead of travelling throughout the body, the drug only targets the nose and the nasal cavity.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays containing beclomethasone and budesonide can be used during pregnancy. Decongestant nasal sprays may be used only if corticosteroid and antihistamine nasal sprays have not relieved the allergic symptoms.
Nasal irrigation is required once a day or, as needed, fill a neti pot with an over-the-counter saline nasal solution. Tilt your head sideways and place the spout of the nasal spray into your upper nostril. Breath through your open mouth and pour the liquid in such a way that it goes in from the upper nostril and comes out of the lower nostril. Repeat on both the side.
Tip: Water should be distilled, boiled, and cooled down beforehand.
What Medications Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
1. Medical experts advise that it is safe for pregnant women to continue taking allergy medications only when they have taken a few before getting pregnant and believe it has worked. But they strongly advise expecting women not to take any new form of allergic shots when pregnant as its reaction towards the baby cannot be determined.
2. Nasal decongestants and pseudoephedrine (a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passage) must be consumed by mouth (such as Sudafed) to shrink the dilated blood vessels caused by allergic reactions against pollen, animal dander, dust, mold, etc.
Unfortunately, it is strongly advised by medical experts that oral decongestants should be avoided throughout the first trimester of pregnancy as they cause congenital disabilities. These include gastroschisis (abdominal wall defect). But these can be used in the second and third trimester, given that it does not hamper the expecting mother’s blood pressure.
Oral decongestants might also lead to vasoconstriction, leading to maternal hypertension and impaired blood flow to the fetus. Since inadequate blood flow can hinder the fetus’s growth and its risks outweigh its benefits, oral decongestants are not prescribed to expecting mothers during the first trimester.
In the second and third trimesters, pregnant women may be prescribed pseudoephedrine, but only inappropriately; it is about 30mg to 60mg every four to six hours (maximum 240mg per day).
Nasal decongestants such as Oxymetazoline can be prescribed, given that the drug does not lead to any contradictions in the body. Such inconsistencies include high-risk pregnancy, fever, infection, or congestion longer than seven days. An appropriate dose for Oxymetazoline is two to three sprays per nostril every 10 to 12 hours.
3. Expecting mothers are advised to steer away from natural remedies and resist trying out alien therapies such as aromatherapy, as their effect has not been studied in great detail. Therefore, it is better to stay safe.
Also read, What are the foods to avoid during pregnancy.
Allergy Medications And Pregnancy: Final Words
The world of medicine is enormous and has a solution for almost everything. Therefore, expecting mothers with allergic symptoms that fear the side effects of their medications should not be weary as there are always substitutes for the medicines they use. Instead, expecting mothers should consult a trusted medical expert and do a little research themselves.
They should remember that antihistamines are considered the best drug to keep their allergic reactions under control. Above that, simply follow a healthy diet, and stay away from allergic triggers.
July 27, 2021 Sam Bell