Spring and Summer can be such beautiful seasons, but it often comes with hay fever that affects millions of people. The severity of this seasonal allergy can range from mild/unnoticeable to discomforting and outrightly severe. Furthermore, hay fever symptoms may be more stringent in pregnant women due to their weak immune systems, prompting them to seek medication.
Thankfully, various over-the-counter medications can help treat hay fever, but not all these medications are safe for pregnant women. This article discusses the causes, symptoms, and safest way to beat your hay fever while you’re pregnant.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergy that causes cold-like signs and symptoms, which include a runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
The trick to avoiding the annoying and miserable hay fever symptoms is learning to avoid its triggers and knowing the right treatment. The common causes of hay fever include the following:
- Seasonal Allergens: These include tree pollen, grass pollen, and Ragweed pollen, which are common in early spring, late spring/summer, and fall, respectively.
- Non- Seasonal Allergens: Non-seasonal allergens can be irksome year-round and are a result of dust mites, pet dander, and cockroaches. Spores from indoor and outdoor fungi and molds can also cause it, although they can be seasonal and perennial.
Symptoms Of Hay Fever During Pregnancy
Hay fever during pregnancy is a type of pregnancy rhinitis. While it is not a life-threatening illness, many pregnant women know the discomforting feeling all too well. The stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, congested nose, and itchy and watery eyes can leave anyone feeling uncomfortable.
It is common for expectant mothers to mistake hay fever symptoms in pregnancy with the common cold or regular nasal congestion that usually occurs in the second trimester of pregnancy due to progesterone and estrogen levels. After all, they share similar symptoms.
The high levels of these hormones during pregnancy increases blood flow through the body (including your nose). As such, it causes your mucus membranes to swell and soften. It is the common reason why pregnant women have stuffed up noses, post nasal drip, and sometimes, nosebleeds.
However, unlike pregnancy hormones or cold, hay fever is neither the product of hormones, a virus, nor bacteria and as such, it is not contagious. It can easily be identified with the following symptoms:
- Itchy, blocked, or runny nose.
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Difficulty in sleeping due to blocked nose
In a nutshell, these symptoms should not give you difficulty breathing, and if you experience this or are unsure of your symptoms, you must immediately contact your doctor.
Tips To Manage Hay fever During Pregnancy
There is no one-size-fits-all way to manage hay fever during pregnancy. However, here are a few ways to combat this allergy.
Use Of Medications
It is okay to opt for over-the-counter hayfever tablets and medicines to battle symptoms during pregnancy. However, make sure you consult your doctor first as not all drugs are suitable for pregnant women, and they could hinder your baby’s development.
Nasal sprays containing corticosteroids or mast cell stabilizers can serve as great relievers for the nose, as well as eye drops that contain mast cell stabilizers. Furthermore, if you want more efficiency, you can consider using antihistamines but make sure that you consult your doctor first.
Some antihistamines cause drowsiness because they enter the bloodstream and, as such, may not be suitable for pregnancy, so use only with a doctor’s prescription.
Pay Attention To Your Outdoor Appearance
Limit your exposure to substances that can trigger allergies, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. In cases where you have to step out, you can apply a smear of petroleum jelly to your nostrils as they help trap pollen, and wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting into your eyes.
Switch Up Your Hygiene
If you are looking to prevent hay fever during pregnancy, then one thing you should consider is switching up your hygiene. Make sure that you shower before bed to ensure all stray pollen is off your hair and skin. Additionally, consider drying your bed sheets and clothes in a dryer or inside to prevent pollen from sticking to them.
Introduce Remedies Through Your Diet
Another way to beat hay fever while pregnant is from the inside out. A spoonful of honey every day can boost your body’s immune system to combat this allergy. Also, you can rinse the inside of your nose with a saline solution. Try to avoid making the saline solution yourself without reliable instructions, as the wrong proportions can further irritate your nasal membranes. A safe bet would be to buy the saline powder from a pharmacy near you.
Hay fever is not a life-threatening illness, and neither is there any study backing its impact on baby development. However, if you are a known sufferer of hay fever before pregnancy, it is best to always take preventive measures before, during, and after the growing seasons (spring and summer). After all, there are other non-seasonal causes of this pregnancy rhinitis.