Hay fever in pregnant women, how to cope with it?【supervised by doctor】

The gender of the fetus is known at 10 weeks.

Introduction

During pregnancy, people are very nervous about taking medicines. ‘I can’t take them easily if I think it might affect the baby.’ However, during hay fever season, many people may find the symptoms so painful that they have to take medication.

Some may suffer from itchy eyes, runny nose and a stuffy nose, and may find it hard to live without tissue paper. Many people think, “If it doesn’t affect the foetus, I’d like to take hay fever medication for relief.”

In this article, we will explain whether taking hay fever medication during pregnancy can affect the foetus, and what measures can be taken by pregnant women to prevent hay fever.

Prevention of hay fever during pregnancy

The mucous membranes of the nose tend to swell more easily than usual during pregnancy, so hay fever may develop in those who have had nothing to worry about before, or in those who have always had hay fever, and may show more severe symptoms than usual.

In such cases, before using medication, try simple self-care first. With a few simple changes, you can relieve hay fever symptoms.

Prevention and self-care

The first and most important step in dealing with hay fever during pregnancy is to take precautions. It is difficult to reduce hay fever symptoms to zero, but prevention can reduce symptoms. Let’s look at some effective prevention methods.

  • Wear clothing made of polyester or other pollen-resistant materials
  • Wear spectacles or hay fever goggles
  • Wear a mask + inner mask
妊娠中の花粉症対策

Woollen fabrics tend to attract pollen, so clothing made of polyester or other synthetic fibres is recommended when going out. Their smooth surfaces make them less prone to pollen and reduce the amount of pollen inhaled.

Wearing spectacles or hay fever goggles is also recommended. Special goggles are available, but wearing ordinary spectacles alone can reduce the amount of pollen in the eyes by one-half to one-third.

Masks are also effective in preventing hay fever. It reduces the amount of pollen inhaled by about one-third to one-sixth. If hay fever symptoms are accompanied by a stuffy nose, you can also use a steamed towel. Warming the nose helps to relieve nasal congestion as it widens the nostrils and improves blood flow.

Effects of hay fever treatment on the foetus

Some people may find that hay fever symptoms do not subside despite wearing polyester clothing or using spectacles. In such cases, measures using medication will be considered.

However, some pregnant women may be concerned: ‘I don’t want to take as much medicine as possible during pregnancy’; ‘Is it safe to use eye drops?’ Many pregnant women are concerned about the effects on the foetus.

Use of hay fever medication during pregnancy

It is never prohibited to use hay fever medication during pregnancy. Some medicines have been shown to be safe, and you can choose the appropriate medicine to treat your condition depending on the length of your pregnancy and your symptoms.

However, it is not recommended to use over-the-counter hay fever medication on your own initiative. Some are not suitable for use depending on the number of weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s condition and the mother’s condition. Most products carry a warning that they should not be used during pregnancy or that they should be purchased only after consultation.”

妊娠中の花粉症治療薬の使用

Early pregnancy

In early pregnancy, when the baby’s organs are being built, medication must be taken with caution. Most of the accompanying documents for hay fever medicines state that they may be used if the benefits outweigh the risks.

However, as a rule, oral medicines are not prescribed in early pregnancy, as the baby is more susceptible to the medicines. Nasal drops or eye drops may be prescribed for severe hay fever sufferers or those who experience symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes or fever that interfere with their lives. Nasal drops and eye drops are considered to have little effect on the foetus due to their local action.

If you take hay fever medication without realising you are pregnant

In some cases, people may not realise they are pregnant for a long period of time. As a result, some people may inadvertently take hay fever medication. As soon as you realise that you are pregnant, stop taking them and consult your obstetrician as soon as possible.

It is important to tell them which medicines you have been taking and for how long. There are no hay fever medicines that have a high potential for teratogenicity. However, if you have taken hay fever medication, carefully monitor the baby’s growth just in case.

Hay fever in pregnant women, how to cope with it?【supervised by doctor】
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From mid-gestation onwards

From the second trimester onwards, the range of medicines that can be used expands. After five months of pregnancy, loratadine, cetirizine and fexofenadine can be used. Each is classified according to the criteria by the Australian Medicines Evaluation Committee as shown in the table below.

B1 are those with no observed teratogenicity and no data on increased incidence of disorders in animal studies, and B2 are those with no confirmed teratogenicity, but data from animal studies are still lacking.

In addition, herbal medicines, headache medicines, gargles and injections may be used for treatment, depending on the symptoms. If you have a severe headache or cough due to pollen, do not hold back and consult a doctor.

Name of medicineAustralian Standard Classification
LoratadineB1
CetirizineB2
FexofenadineB2

Laser therapy

Laser therapy is a treatment that reduces allergic reactions by denaturing the nasal mucosa through the application of a laser. It is used to treat hay fever as well as rhinitis. Laser therapy has little effect on the baby and can be undergone during pregnancy if the pregnant woman’s own health is stable.

Should sublingual immunotherapy be stopped?

If sublingual immunotherapy was started before pregnancy, it does not need to be stopped when pregnancy is detected. You can continue treatment as is. However, sublingual immunotherapy cannot be started anew after pregnancy.

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Preventing hay fever while breastfeeding

Basically, during lactation, medicines can be taken without as much concern as during pregnancy. For example, loratadine and cetirizine are listed as ‘safe’ in ‘Pregnancy, Lactation and Medications’ published by the Aichi Pharmaceutical Association. However, when taking them, do not use over-the-counter medicines at your own discretion and always consult an otolaryngologist or other healthcare professional before asking for a prescription.

Summary

In the first trimester of pregnancy, oral medicines are generally not allowed because of the important period during which the baby’s organs are being formed. After five months of pregnancy, the types of medicines that can be used increase. If you are concerned about hay fever symptoms, it is advisable to take precautions such as having laser treatment beforehand.

Wearing polyester clothing and spectacles can also help to reduce symptoms. Consult with your obstetrician, otolaryngologist or other doctor to successfully overcome the hay fever season.

【References】

Q&A

  • Q
    Is it true that pregnancy makes hay fever worse?
    Depending on the individual, hay fever symptoms may worsen in some women during pregnancy. This is due to reduced immune function and swelling of the mucous membranes of the nose.
  • Q
    What department should I visit if I go to hospital?
    First, see an obstetrician and gynaecologist. They will monitor the baby and mother and take appropriate action.

    When visiting an ENT, ophthalmologist or internist, always tell the doctor that you are pregnant.
  • Q
    Do hay fever medicines affect NIPT?
    Hay fever medication does not affect NIPT. However, you should inform the NIPT about the medicines you are taking.

Article Editorial Supervisor


Dr Hiroshi Oka

Dr Hiroshi Oka

NIPT specialist clinic, MD

Graduated from Keio University, School of Medicine

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