How to treat hayfever during pregnancy

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day, which got us thinking about a big issue Australian women face with hayfever: How does one manage hayfever when pregnant?

Although some women make it seem easy with that ‘fresh pregnancy glow’, we all know pregnancy has its hardships. It means we have to reconsider everything we do on a daily basis like what we eat, drink and what medication we take. Not to mention the frequent doctor visits that come with these changes, especially when seeking medical advice.

This means it’s harder for us to treat diseases like hayfever. Hayfever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is when the body reacts to allergens, producing histamine and therefore symptoms like a runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, itchy eyes or an itchy throat.

It’s usually caused by triggers like dust mites, mould, pet dander, or pollen.

While most people are able to treat hayfever by simply taking medication like nasal sprays, eye drops and tablets, pregnant women need to be careful with what they put into their bodies. This is because some medication could put you and your baby at risk.

According to the New South Wales government organisation ‘MotherSafe’, nasal irrigation and saline sprays are a safe way to clear the nose and can be used prior to taking treatment. ‘MotherSafe’ suggest that if symptoms are infrequent oral antihistamines (tablets) are the preferred medication option, while if symptoms occur more than 4 days a week a corticosteroid nasal spray is an option. Only some corticosteroid nasal sprays are safe to use during pregnancy.

If you’re worried about the corticosteroid nasal sprays you are taking, The National Asthma Council Australia has also said that this form of medication has a good safety rating, but needs to be checked by the doctor beforehand. The doctor may provide you with a more effective nasal spray.

The easiest way to determine which treatments are safe to use is by going to your local doctor who will be able to give you appropriate advice and recommendations. However, if you need an urgent answer, calling the government Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline may be helpful in the first instance. This service is available 24 /7 and counsellors are able to provide advice on topics such as maternal nutrition and information on a baby’s development. The number is: 1800 882 436.

We understand these changes to your medication can be frustrating, especially if you suffer from severe hayfever symptoms. Keep in mind if you can no longer take your current medication this doesn’t mean you need to suffer in silence. It might be worth asking your doctor what alternative solutions are available.

We hope this information has helped you. If you have any other suggestions let us know by commenting below or sharing it with us on our Facebook page. To see how hayfever is impacting you, consider trying out our self-assessment tool.

(Photo credit: Flickr, by Vanessa Porter).