During pregnancy, many aspects of the woman’s body will change. The immune system’s response to allergens can heighten, causing an increase in the intensity of unpleasant symptoms. Coupled with an overproduction of nasal congestion, thanks to hormone levels, the nine months of pregnancy can be filled with sniffling, sneezing, and coughing.
Recent studies have also shown that sinusitis is about six times more common in pregnant woman, thanks to these two factors. With this in mind, it’s important for pregnant woman to be pro-active about managing allergen exposure and symptoms.
Reducing allergens in the home can prevent symptoms from starting in the first place. Pollen, molds, pet dander, dust mites and cockroaches, all common allergy triggers, are typically found in every home. Whether or not a woman and her doctor are comfortable with the woman using allergy medication, it’s always best not to need it in the first place. Taking these basic steps around the home can dramatically reduced the symptoms of allergies (Wertheim):
- Cover mattresses and pillows with hypo-allergenic zip covers and switch from down to synthetic fibers. Wash all bedding in hot water to kill dust mites.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove air-borne allergens.
- Dust once a week with an electrostatic cloth (like a Swiffer duster).
- Keep windows closed to reduce spread of pollen and other outdoor allergens in the home.
- Keep the humidity in the home under 50% to control dust and mold (ACAAI).
- Keep up with regular cleaning routines to reduce mold production, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.
Avoid harmful substances as well, such as cigarette smoke, paint and chemical fumes, strong odors (perfume, cologne), environmental pollutants, and some drugs (aspirin or beta-blockers), which can all increase the body’s reaction to allergy triggers (ACAAI).
Safe Allergy Remedies
If symptoms persist even after taking preventative measures, it may be necessary to consider alternative treatments and medications for allergy relief. Fortunately, most allergy medications are considered safe for pregnant women to use throughout pregnancy: “Many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications are Category B, which means studies in animals have failed to link any increased risk of medical problems to the fetus” (Wertheim.)
As always, pregnant women should consult a doctor before beginning any treatments during pregnancy. Some medications may make a woman more drowsy than usual, and it will be important to be aware of the possible side effects.