Hay Fever during Pregnancy – Causes and Treatment

Hay Fever during Pregnancy - Causes and Treatment

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Hay fever is a seasonal allergy that affects the sinuses during late spring and early summer months. It is very common and is often overlooked as a trivial allergy, however, getting it during pregnancy can be a serious problem. This is in part due to exacerbated symptoms and in part, because you are unsure which medications are suitable to take during pregnancy. This article will help you understand all about hay fever during pregnancy, its causes and treatment.

What Is Hay Fever?

Hay fever is an allergic condition known as rhinitis; it leads to inflammation in the inner lining of the nasal cavity. Hay fever affects about five to ten percent of Indians every year. It is common enough that many people ignore it entirely when they are affected.

What Causes Hay Fever?

Hay fever is often caused by exposure to various allergens, such as dust, pollen, fur, and so on. These substances overstimulate the immune system, causing a reaction. This is because the immune system is unable to differentiate between the allergens and actually harmful substances, treating the former as dangerous to the body.

Symptoms of Hay Fever

The symptoms of hay fever depend on the substance the person is allergic too. However, the common symptoms of hay fever are mentioned below:

  • Flu-like signs such as a runny nose, blocked sinuses, watery eyes, coughing, and sneezing.
  • Itching in the throat, ear, mouth, and nose.
  • If the condition is severe, you may experience headaches, earaches, and may even suffer from the loss of smell and taste.

A pregnant woman with nosebleed

Are These Symptoms Any Different in Pregnancy?

The symptoms of hay fever are more extreme during pregnancy as a pregnant woman undergoes a constant hormonal flux. As pregnancy has an effect on the immune system, it is not clear if hay fever symptoms only feel worse or are actually worse during the pregnancy.

Does Hay Fever Have Any Negative Impact on the Foetus?

There is no connection proof suggesting that acquiring hay fever during pregnancy can affect the health and development of the baby. However, the symptoms of hay fever, if severe, can affect the pregnancy or the foetus. For instance, excessive sneezing can cause abdominal pain due to the pressure exerted on the belly. Further, the likelihood of nosebleeds increases during pregnancy, which can be worsened by hay fever. This can be problematic as excessive loss of blood can lead to pregnancy anaemia.

How Is Hay Fever Treated during Pregnancy?

Treating hay fever during pregnancy is not easy because of the fluctuating hormones. And you should never self-medicate during pregnancy. Here are some tips on how to stop hay fever in pregnancy:

  • You can use over-the-counter nasal sprays to wash out any allergens. Allergen barrier balms can also be used to block the entry of allergens into the nasal cavity. Both of these are totally safe to use at any time.
  • Steroid nasal sprays or medicated eye drops can also provide relief, but it should always be used after consulting with your doctor. Usually, doctors prescribe them only after the first trimester.
  • In severe cases, your doctor will prescribe hay fever medication during pregnancy. Most antihistamines for hay fever are usually not safe for pregnancy, excluding loratadine and cetirizine.

Remedies for Hay Fever during Pregnancy

There are a few natural remedies for hay fever during pregnancy that you can try on your own:

1. Consume Vitamin A and Probiotics

There is a strong connection between healthy intestinal microflora and the immune system. Basically, the bacteria in our gut are believed to influence symptoms of allergic reactions. Foods like curd and yoghurt are rich in these bacteria. Further, eating foods rich in Vitamin A, like carrots, can help strengthen the inner mucous membranes.

2. Reduce Stress Levels

Even if stress does not directly result in hay fever, it is believed to raise the levels of histamines in the blood, worsening the symptoms. So, it is important that you take enough rest during pregnancy and avoid stress at all costs.

3. Avoid Allergen Triggers

As most allergens are present outside the house, it is safe to remain indoors as much as possible during mornings and evenings when pollen levels are at their maximum. A humidifier at home which can weigh allergen particles down with water vapour, causing them to fall to the ground is also great.

4. Keep Clean

Remember to clean the dust and pollen off your clothes when you return home from outside. Further, regularly wash and dry your bedsheets and pillowcases for the same reason.

How Long Does a Hay Fever Last in Pregnant Women

Hay fever tends to last around a week to ten days in pregnant women. As you cannot indiscriminately take medications at this time, you might have to endure some discomfort.

When To Call a Doctor

Pregnancy combined with hay fever can be quite exhausting for your body. While some women feel that their symptoms are mild, others may experience severe symptoms of hay fever during pregnancy. However, chronic stress can result in a separate condition known as vasomotor rhinitis. This condition has the same symptoms as hay fever but is caused by an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system rather than an allergic reaction. If you cannot differentiate between vasomotor rhinitis and hay fever symptoms, please consult your doctor immediately.

Hay fever during pregnancy can be quite taxing, but the right treatment at the right time can provide some relief. It is recommended that you do not self-prescribe medicines. Taking preventive measures is the best and if the symptoms tend to get severe, you can always consult a doctor. Also, remember that this allergy is temporary and will pass soon enough. So take precautions and stay safe.

Also Read: Chikungunya Infection in Pregnancy