If you are suddenly sneezing, coughing, or experiencing itchy eyes for the first time during pregnancy, you might be wondering whether your baby bump has caused the symptoms. On the other hand, if you’ve already suffered from allergies before, you may be wondering how pregnancy can affect them.
It may be difficult to realize whether your symptoms are caused by allergies or you are experiencing pregnancy-related nasal congestion. If you notice any symptoms, be conscious about taking medicine on your own. Some medication may even be harmful both for you and your little one if not used correctly. However, natural remedies are usually recommended by experts since they do not contain any harmful substances. Treating allergies during pregnancy in that way ensures both you and your baby stay healthy.
Can You Get Allergies while Pregnant?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. It is possible to get allergies for the first time during your pregnancy. The probability of getting allergy-related symptoms is much higher if you have already suffered from allergies. Pregnancy allergies are common and a lot of women suffer from this condition only during their pregnancy. However, do not be alarmed because your doctor will give you the best possible advice when it comes to the treatment.
How Do Allergies Affect Your Baby and Pregnancy?
You can have a healthy and safe pregnancy even if you experience allergy symptoms. When you are feeling itchy and are constantly sneezing, your little one will most likely not even notice something is going on. However, it is strongly advised to consult your doctor and tell him about your symptoms so you don’t experience any complications.
About one-third of pregnant women do not experience allergies during pregnancy. On the other hand, another third is not so lucky, experiencing even worse allergy symptoms than before pregnancy. Also, the rest of them report that their symptoms stay relatively the same.
Allergy Symptoms during Pregnancy
In case you have hay fever (rhinitis) or similar conditions, you will most likely experience:
- Itchiness in your eyes, mouth, and/or skin
- Runny nose
These symptoms usually start being noticeable at the beginning of spring, during the late summer, or even early fall. However, they do not have a predictable pattern since they depend on some environmental allergens which cause sensitivity. Also, mold, pet dander, and dust can worsen your symptoms and cause pregnancy allergies at any time of the year.
Allergies During Pregnancy vs. Nasal Congestion
Nasal congestion usually appears during the second trimester because high levels of progesterone and estrogen increase the blood flow. Increased blood flow causes the swelling and softening of mucus membranes. This can lead to symptoms that are typical for an allergy or a cold and can also cause nosebleeds. That is why it may be difficult to realize what exactly you are experiencing. Also, this may lead to the postnasal drip which may result in coughing and gagging problems.
So, what is the best way to tell the difference between pregnancy allergies and typical pregnancy congestion? If allergies are causing you problems, you will experience the aforementioned symptoms, such as itchy eyes and sneezing, among others. In case you are not being bothered by sneezing and itchiness, you could be suffering from pregnancy congestion which is a completely normal thing to experience when expecting a baby. However, you should always consult your doctor so you can be sure about your diagnosis and avoid further problems.
What Medicine to Use during Pregnancy?
Your doctor is the person you should rely on when it comes to choosing your medications. It is important not to continue using prescribed medications, homeopathic, or over-the-counter ones before getting a green light from your practitioner. Even if you find certain information online or in the newspapers, your doctor should have the last word. However, there are some generally allowed medicines and some which are completely off-limits:
Regular decongestants which contain phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine (such as Claritin-D,
DayQuil, or Sudafed) are in no case allowed for pregnant women, especially when it comes to the first trimester. Frequent usage of certain decongestants can lead to restricted blood flow to your placenta. It is not a big problem if you have already taken them a few times, just make sure you let your doctor know about it.
Antihistamines may be safe during pregnancy, but you need to ask your doctor for approval. The most commonly recommended one is Benadryl (diphenhydramine). When it comes to Claritin (loratadine), it is considered safe in most cases, even though it does not get a green light during the first trimester according to some doctors. Some practitioners agree with the usage of Chlor-Trimetron (chlorpheniramine) as well as triprolidine but most of them recommend using an alternative.
Nasal sprays that contain steroids are recommended in most cases, but it is a good idea to check with your doctor before using any. Saline sprays are generally safe, as well as nasal strips. If your doctor has not recommended using nasal sprays with oxymetazoline (such as Afrin), you should stay away from using them.
Treatment of Pregnancy Allergies
Taking medicine can help you get relief from uncomfortable allergy symptoms. If you are not in favor of doing that, you can prevent allergies or improve your condition by doing the following things:
Take some steps in preventing pollen allergy. If you are allergic to pollen, you should prefer staying inside with air-conditioned, filtered air during those periods when pollen allergy is most prominent. Opening windows is not advised as pollen can easily get inside your house. If you have to leave the house, you can use wraparound sunglasses that are going to protect your eyes from pollen. Upon entering your house, take your shoes off, wash both your hands and your face and change your clothes (you should also throw the old ones in the wash) to stop pollen from spreading. Also, you could shower and wash your hair as well to further prevent the spread of pollen. Even though these methods may get annoying at times, they are among the most effective ways to prevent your pollen allergy.
Try to avoid smokers. Smoke worsens your allergies and can even make your symptoms unbearable. It can cause watery and itchy eyes, itchy skin, stuffy, or even runny nose. Also, second-hand smoke is very harmful to both you and your baby bump. You could also warn your visitors not to smoke inside your house.
In case you are allergic to pets, you should take extra care. You should make sure the places you are going to visit are pet-free. If you are visiting friends who have a pet, you should let them know in advance so they can take the necessary steps, such as vacuuming. In case you become allergic to your pet all of a sudden, it is a good idea to make at least one room pet-free and keep it out of your bedroom.
Take care of your surroundings if you are allergic to dust. To avoid spreading dust, it is advised to use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or a wet mop. Microfiber cloth is typically better than any traditional duster. Vacuuming often will make it less likely to develop allergies. Staying away from dirty places, such as basements and attics is one of the best ways to prevent allergies.
Using saline spray. This natural remedy can be of great help and can ease your symptoms. However, not all nasal sprays are safe to use so you should consult your doctor when it comes to choosing the appropriate brand and dosage.
Consult your doctor in case you’ve suffered from any food allergies. You might be worried if eating highly-allergenic food such as dairy products or peanuts is going to cause your baby to develop food allergies. Eating such food during pregnancy is recommended by some doctors. However, if you have ever experienced food allergies, you should talk to your doctor about your diet. Also, you shouldn’t even be taking prenatal vitamins without consulting with your doctor first.
Baby Planet Overview
Pregnancy allergies are widespread, but not every pregnant woman is going to experience such problems. Allergy symptoms can easily be confused with pregnancy-related nasal congestion. However, there are some symptoms to watch out for when it comes to discerning these two conditions. In case your congestion comes with a runny nose and itchiness, you are most likely experiencing an allergic reaction.
You should also remember that not every medicine is safe to use during pregnancy, so make sure to talk to your doctor about it. However, there are some steps you can take for prevention or simply getting a relief, such as using saline sprays, taking care of your surroundings, regularly vacuuming, or not going out during the times when pollen allergy is at its highest.
- Allergic diseases and asthma in pregnancy, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov