The Independent Pharmacy

Safe Hay Fever Management During Pregnancy

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 7 May 2024

What is a suitable hayfever treatment for pregnant women?

The NHS recommend antihistamines like cetirizine and loratadine as the go-to remedies for managing hay fever during pregnancy. When used as directed, these have been thoroughly evaluated and deemed safe for both you and your unborn baby.

Understanding hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is crucial as it is an allergic reaction to airborne particles like pollen, which your body sees as a threat. In response, it releases histamine, causing those all-too-familiar symptoms – the uncontrollable sneezing fits, the constantly runny or stuffy nose, and the irritated, itchy eyes that make you miserable.

While hay fever may seem like a minor nuisance, leaving it untreated can seriously disrupt your pregnancy journey. That’s why finding safe ways to get relief is so important, allowing you to focus on nurturing your little one without distressing allergy symptoms getting in the way.

Even during peak pollen seasons or when experiencing hay fever on holiday, a well-tailored approach allows expectant mothers to manage symptoms effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Some specific antihistamines and nasal sprays are safe and effective for treating hay fever during pregnancy but make sure to use them exactly as your doctor recommends.
  • Creating an allergen-minimised home environment and practising self-care habits like saline rinses can provide extra relief.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek medical support if hay fever symptoms become severe or disruptive - your health and baby’s health are top priorities.

Checking If Hay Fever Treatments Are Safe for Pregnancy

Common Hay Fever Medicines

When it comes to managing hay fever during pregnancy, not all treatments are created equal. Many over-the-counter allergy medicines contain ingredients that could potentially affect your baby’s development, so it’s crucial we’re selective.

Thankfully, several hay fever medications, including specific antihistamines and nasal sprays, have been deemed safe for use during pregnancy. Let’s look at some of the most common options:

  • Oral Antihistamines: These pills help relieve nasal symptoms by stopping histamine, a natural substance your body makes during an allergic reaction, from causing irritation. Antihistamine tablets like cetirizine and loratadine are often a doctor’s first line of defence against hay fever in pregnancy.
  • Nasal Sprays: Sometimes, oral medications alone aren’t enough to tame severe nasal congestion. Saline nasal sprays like Sudafed natural relief, which is simply salt water, along with certain prescription nasal sprays, can help relieve your symptoms if used correctly and with your doctor’s approval.

It's always best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new treatment for hay fever during pregnancy. They will help make sure the medicine is safe for the stage of pregnancy you are in and explain how much to take. They are there to support you and ensure that you and your baby remain safe.

Loratadine 10mg Tablets
Loratadine 10mg Tablets
View Treatment
Cetirizine Tablets & Solution
Cetirizine Tablets & Solution
View Treatment

Other Ways to Treat Hay Fever

While medical treatments are highly effective, you may also want to explore complementary natural remedies to help manage your hayfever symptoms. Some options many find soothing include:

While natural remedies can be tempting, it's important to remember they're not always risk-free during pregnancy. Always get the green light from your physician before trying any new remedy, even if it seems harmless.

The key is creating a detailed hay fever management plan that combines safe medical treatments with lifestyle adjustments and natural therapies approved by your prenatal care team. Up next, we’ll look at expert-recommended choices.

What Doctors Say Is Best

Medicines Doctors Often Suggest

When treating hay fever during pregnancy, doctors have some clear front-runners they tend to recommend based on effectiveness and safety data. Here are some of the top contenders:

  • Cetirizine: The NHS confirms that cetirizine is a safe choice for pregnant mums. It effectively relieves symptoms like sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, and runny nose without crossing the placenta in high amounts.
  • Loratadine: Another antihistamine that gets the green light from the NHS, loratadine is non-drowsy and has an excellent safety profile when used during pregnancy.
  • Steroid Nasal Sprays: If you have severe nasal congestion, your doctor might recommend a corticosteroid nasal spray like Beclometasone. These sprays reduce swelling and are mostly not absorbed into your body, making them safer.

No matter which medicine you and your doctor decide is best, take it only as prescribed. Follow dosing instructions carefully, and don’t exceed the recommended amount. A little goes a long way for managing hay fever safely during this precious time.

Beclometasone 50mcg Nasal Spray
Beclometasone 50mcg Nasal Spray
View Treatment

Ways to Manage Hay Fever Without Medicine

While hay fever medications are the frontline treatment, doctors also emphasise complementary lifestyle adjustments to help reduce your overall allergen exposure and symptoms:

  • Stay Indoors: Keeping windows closed and using air conditioners during peak pollen times can significantly limit allergens in your environment.
  • Rinse Regularly: A quick shower after spending time outside washes away pollen from your skin and hair before it can be transferred indoors.
  • Monitor Pollen Levels: It's important to monitor pollen levels through MET Office and other reliable resources, and adapt your activities accordingly to manage hay fever effectively.

Creating a low-allergen cocoon, combined with the right medicines, can provide much-needed relief when hay fever strikes. Up next, we’ll cover specific tips for an allergen-safe home.

Everyday Tips for Handling Hay Fever While Pregnant

Making Your Home Safer

As an expectant mom with hay fever, having a safe haven to retreat to can make all the difference in managing your symptoms. Here are some simple tips for creating an allergen-free home environment:

  • Use High-Efficiency Filters: Invest in high-quality HEPA air filters for your home HVAC system and vacuum cleaners. These trap even microscopic pollen particles.
  • Keep Things Clean: Vacuum often using a HEPA filter, wash bedding weekly in hot water, and keep surfaces free of dust that can harbour allergens.
  • Minimise Pollen Entry: Keep windows closed during peak pollen times, and consider using affordable DIY door seals to block drafts carrying pollen inside.
  • Nasal Barrier Balms: The NHS confirms that a thick, fragrance-free balm, like petroleum jelly (Vaseline), can act as a barrier when applied around nasal openings to trap pollen before it enters.

Minimising exposure to pollen and other allergens indoors gives your body’s pregnant immune system a much-needed break.

Taking Care of Yourself Daily

In addition to controlling your environment, simple daily self-care habits can prevent hayfever symptoms from escalating:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water thins mucus and keeps nasal passages humidified for comfier breathing.
  • Manage Stress: Research from 2013 confirmed a connection between stress and worsening allergy symptoms. So prioritise relaxing activities like prenatal yoga, meditation, or just putting your feet up.
  • Nasal Saline Rinses: A gentle saltwater rinse helps flush away irritants and excess mucus from nasal cavities.
  • Hot Showers: Breathing in warm, steamy air can provide soothing temporary decongestion.

Don’t forget to keep your doctor in the loop on how you’re feeling and what’s working or not to manage your hay fever. Consistent communication is key.

With some creative environmental and routine adjustments, you can minimise hayfever’s impact and enjoy your pregnancy more comfortably. But in some cases, further medical support may be needed...

When to See a Doctor

While mild hayfever symptoms are often manageable with over-the-counter treatments and lifestyle adjustments, there are certain times during pregnancy when you should seek prompt medical attention. Learn to recognise the difference between mild and severe symptoms.

What symptoms mean you should get help:

  • Severe difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Symptoms that disrupt your sleep or ability to function
  • Uncontrolled nasal congestion lasting over a week
  • Signs of an associated sinus infection, like facial pain or fever

These more serious cases may require stronger prescription medications or other interventions from your doctor to control your hay fever.

Talking to Your Prenatal Doctor

It’s always a good idea to inform your obstetrician about any hay fever symptoms or treatments you use. Be upfront about your experiences so they can evaluate if your management approach is working effectively or needs adjustment.

Some questions to ask include:

  • Are there any medication concerns based on my stage of pregnancy?
  • How often should I follow up regarding my symptoms?
  • What signs indicate I may need a stronger treatment?
  • Are there any safety considerations with the remedies I’m using?

Your doctor is your partner in ensuring both you and your baby remain safe and healthy throughout your pregnancy. Don’t hesitate to voice any hay fever-related concerns.

By taking a proactive approach to treatment and closely monitoring your symptoms, you can prevent hay fever from unnecessarily disrupting this special time.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

While finding the right hayfever treatment during pregnancy is so important, we know it can also feel daunting. What works for one expectant mom may not provide sufficient relief for the next. That’s why personalised advice tailored to your specific needs and pregnancy stage is invaluable.

The good news is you don’t have to figure it all out alone. The Independent Pharmacy offers a convenient online self-assessment tool designed to match you with the safest, most effective hay fever management plan.

No more guesswork about what medicines or remedies are appropriate. We’ll evaluate your unique situation and provide clear recommendations on antihistamines, nasal sprays, and complementary therapies to help you breathe easier.

Just visit our website and click on the “Start Assessment As New Patient” button. It’s that easy to get professional guidance from the comfort of your home.

You shouldn’t have to suffer through hay fever’s miseries during this precious season of life. Let The Independent Pharmacy be your trusted partner in developing a personalised plan to keep you and your little one healthy, comfortable, and allergy-free. Get in touch with our expert team today.

FAQs

Is it safe to take Piriton while pregnant?

Piriton (chlorphenamine) is an older type of antihistamine that can cause more adverse effects like drowsiness during pregnancy. The newer non-drowsy antihistamines like cetirizine or loratadine are generally considered safer options for managing hay fever when you’re expecting.

Why can’t you take hay fever tablets when pregnant?

Many over-the-counter hay fever medicines contain decongestant ingredients like pseudoephedrine that are not recommended for use during pregnancy. Decongestants can potentially affect a baby’s blood flow, so it’s best to avoid them unless specifically advised by your doctor. Always check medicine labels carefully.

Can I take cetirizine while pregnant?

Yes, cetirizine is one of the antihistamines widely considered safe for use in pregnancy when taken as directed. It effectively controls common hay fever symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes without being absorbed in high amounts into the bloodstream.

Is hay fever worse when pregnant?

A study from 2021 confirms that for some women, allergy symptoms can feel more severe and harder to manage during pregnancy. Hormone fluctuations and elevated blood flow may trigger increased nasal congestion and sensitivity to allergens like pollen. Be sure to discuss worsening symptoms with your obstetrician.

Can antihistamines harm my unborn baby?

When used under a doctor’s guidance and following dosage instructions, most newer antihistamines like cetirizine and loratadine are considered low-risk in pregnancy. Their chemical makeup prevents them from easily passing through the placenta to your baby, reducing the risk of affecting the baby. Older antihistamines may pose higher risks, so always verify safety first.

Sources:

Karen Head, Kornkiat Snidvongs, Simon Glew, Glenis Scadding, Anne GM Schilder, Carl Philpott, Claire Hopkins, and Cochrane ENT Group (2018). Saline irrigation for allergic rhinitis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6513421/

Haipeng Bao, PhD, Dongxu Si, PhD, Longxia Gao, PhD, Huizhuo Sun, MD, Qi Shi, PhD, Yue Yan, PhD, Dashzeveg Damchaaperenlei, PhD, Chunlei Li, PhD, MingXia Yu, MD, and Youlin Li, PhD (2018). Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320097/

Birgit Pfaller, Sarah Bendien, Agnès Ditisheim, Thomas Eiwegger (2021). Management of allergic diseases in pregnancy - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/all.15063

Related Guides

Need something else?

We stock 1045 treatments for 90 conditions

Or browse all treatments or conditions

A customer at the pharmacist looking for medication