Seasonal allergies are common illnesses that can result in serious complications during pregnancy.
Many pregnant women suffer from springtime allergies. Symptoms of seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis can include nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and swollen, red, itching, or watery eyes. Below is important information from your women’s health clinic about the use of various seasonal allergy treatments during pregnancy.
Nasal and eye symptoms of seasonal allergies can be treated with antihistamines during pregnancy. Antihistamines can relieve symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, including eye inflammation from exposure to pollen or mold spores. Other than in cases of anaphylaxis, which are life threatening, pregnant women must weigh the risks and benefits of using an antihistamine during pregnancy before using these drugs to treat allergy symptoms.
Chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton®), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl®)
These two allergy-relieving drugs have long been used by pregnant women. Chlorpheniramine is usually the preferred treatment, however, an important side-effect of this drug for some patients is drowsiness and impaired performance. Newer drugs, cetirizine (Zyrtec®) and loratadine (Claritin®), are now recommended for use during pregnancy, as these have less sedative effects. There is also encouraging human and animal research study data for these drugs.
Decongestants can be problematic for pregnant women. Afrin® and Neo-Synephrine® nasal sprays currently appear to be the safest treatments for nasal congestion, because they absorb minimally into the blood stream. However, rebound congestion can result from use of these or other over-the-counter nasal sprays, which can actually worsen the symptoms that the drugs are meant to treat. Limit regular use of decongestants to three consecutive days, or use as intermittent treatment only.
This drug has long been used by pregnant women, and research studies have been encouraging. However, recently there has been a small increase in reports of abdominal wall defects in newborns whose mothers used this drug during pregnancy. Use of any decongestant should depend on the severity of maternal symptoms that other medications have not alleviated.
Phenylephrine and Phenylpropanolamine
Based on available information, these two decongestants are not recommended for pregnant women as often as pseudophedrine.
Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays
For more severe nasal symptoms of allergy that continue more than a few days, intranasal corticosteroid sprays can prevent symptoms and reduce need for oral medications. While safety data on use of these drugs during pregnancy is very limited, data for use of the same medication, budesonide (Rhinocort®), in treating asthma, indicate intranasal corticosteroid as a reasonable choice. Your doctor may also approve continuing use of another type you used prior to pregnancy.
Allergy Shots During Pregnancy
Allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) help patients with symptoms not alleviated by other drugs and environmental controls. Allergy shots may be continued during pregnancy for women who are not having adverse reactions to the shots. Starting allergy shots during pregnancy is not recommended. If you have ever received allergy shots, one of the important questions to ask your gynecologist before getting pregnant is how allergy risks should be managed.
Risks from Untreated Allergies During Pregnancy
Severe, uncontrolled rhinitis can affect a pregnant woman’s eating, sleeping, or emotional well-being. Symptoms can worsen, and can pre-dispose her to sinusitis. Consult with your doctor about appropriate allergy treatment during pregnancy.
The Woman’s Clinic, Little Rock, AR
For more information about treating seasonal allergies during pregnancy and an abundance of other important pregnancy tips, or to make an appointment, contact The Woman’s Clinic by calling (501) 664-4131. Our board certified gynecologists and obstetricians provide state-of-the-art Little Rock AR prenatal care for our patients in a comfortable, private setting.