Pregnancy is a time of profound change in a woman’s body, bringing with it a range of physical and hormonal shifts. For women with allergies, this period can present unique challenges. Understanding how pregnancy affects allergies and how to manage them safely is crucial for the health of both the mother and the developing baby. The good news is here at Premier Allergy, Asthma, & Sinus Care, we’re experts when it comes to allergies. We’ve also been caring patients for over 12 years so we know how to make sure your allergies are well taken care of during your pregnancy.

Understanding Allergies During Pregnancy


Allergies are caused by an overactive immune response to substances that are usually harmless, such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, or certain foods. Symptoms can range from mild (sneezing, itchy eyes) to severe (asthma, anaphylaxis). During pregnancy, the immune system undergoes changes, which can alter the way a woman’s body responds to allergens.

Common Allergies and Symptoms


1.     Seasonal Allergies (Hay Fever):

Symptoms: Sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and throat.

Triggers: Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.

2.     Perennial Allergies:

Symptoms: Similar to seasonal allergies but occur year-round.

Triggers: Dust mites, pet dander, mold, and cockroach droppings.

3.     Food Allergies:

Symptoms: Hives, swelling, digestive issues, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

Triggers: Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, milk, eggs, wheat, and soy.

4.     Skin Allergies (Eczema, Contact Dermatitis):

Symptoms: Itchy, red, and inflamed skin.

Triggers: Certain fabrics, soaps, detergents, and metals.


How Pregnancy Affects Allergies


Pregnancy can influence allergies in several ways. Some women may experience an improvement in their symptoms, while others may find that their allergies worsen or remain unchanged. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can also introduce new symptoms or alter existing ones.

Hormonal Impact


1.     Progesterone and Estrogen:

These hormones increase during pregnancy and can cause the nasal passages to swell, leading to congestion and making allergy symptoms more pronounced.

2.     Immune System Changes:

Pregnancy involves a shift in the immune system to protect the developing baby. This can sometimes result in an altered response to allergens.

3.     Increased Blood Volume:

The increase in blood volume during pregnancy can lead to swelling in various parts of the body, including the nasal passages, exacerbating allergy symptoms.

Safe Allergy Management During




Managing allergies during pregnancy requires a careful balance between relieving symptoms and ensuring the safety of both mother and baby.

Here are some strategies:


Avoiding Triggers


1.     Stay Indoors During High Pollen Counts:

Keep windows closed and use air conditioning during peak pollen times, typically early morning and late afternoon.

2.     Use Air Purifiers:

Air purifiers with HEPA filters can help reduce indoor allergens such as dust mites and pet dander.

3.     Maintain Cleanliness:

Regularly wash bedding, curtains, and stuffed animals. Use dust-mite-proof covers for pillows and mattresses.

4.     Dietary Precautions:

Avoid known food allergens and read food labels carefully. Consult with a healthcare provider before introducing any new foods.

Medication Safety


Many allergy medications are considered safe during pregnancy, but it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication. Here are some commonly used treatments:

1.     Antihistamines:

Loratadine (Claritin) and Cetirizine (Zyrtec) are generally considered safe.

Avoid first-generation antihistamines like Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) unless recommended by a doctor, as they can cause drowsiness and other side effects.

2.     Nasal Corticosteroids:

Budesonide (Rhinocort) and Beclomethasone (Beconase) are typically safe for use during pregnancy to reduce inflammation and congestion.

3.     Decongestants:

Oral decongestants like Pseudoephedrine should generally be avoided, especially in the first trimester. Nasal decongestant sprays may be used for short periods.

4.     Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy):

If already receiving allergy shots before pregnancy, it is usually safe to continue. However, starting immunotherapy during pregnancy is not recommended.


Natural Remedies


1.     Saline Nasal Sprays:

These can help flush out allergens from the nasal passages and relieve congestion without any medication.

2.     Steam Inhalation:

Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water can help soothe nasal passages and reduce congestion.

3.     Honey:

Some people find relief from local honey, although its effectiveness is debated. Ensure it’s pasteurized and consult with a healthcare provider before use.


Special Considerations for Asthma


Asthma can be particularly concerning during pregnancy, as uncontrolled asthma poses risks to both mother and baby, including preeclampsia, preterm birth, and low birth weight. Therefore, maintaining good asthma control is crucial.

1.     Regular Monitoring:

Regular check-ups with an allergy provider to monitor asthma control and adjust medications as needed.

2.     Medication Adherence:

Continue using prescribed inhalers and medications. Inhaled corticosteroids are generally safe and essential for maintaining control.

3.     Emergency Plan:

Have an asthma action plan in place and ensure family members or caregivers are aware of it.

When to Seek Medical Help


Pregnant women with allergies should seek medical advice if they experience:

1.     Severe Allergic Reactions:

Symptoms like swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis require immediate medical attention.

2.     Uncontrolled Asthma:

Persistent coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath despite using prescribed medications.

3.     New or Worsening Symptoms:

Any new symptoms or a significant change in existing symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Preparing for Allergy Season


Pregnant women with allergies should prepare in advance for allergy season by:

1.     Stocking Up on Medications:

Ensure you have a supply of safe medications approved by your healthcare provider.

2.     Creating a Safe Home Environment:

Implementing measures to reduce indoor allergens and maintaining a clean living space.

3.     Educating Family Members:

Inform family members and caregivers about your allergies and asthma action plan.

Allergies during pregnancy can be challenging, but with careful management and the right precautions, it is possible to keep symptoms under control and ensure a healthy pregnancy. Always consult with an allergy provider before starting or continuing any medication, and adopt strategies to avoid triggers and maintain a clean environment. By taking these steps, pregnant women can navigate allergy season safely and comfortably, ensuring the best possible outcome for both mother and baby.