Mother and Baby

How to treat hay fever symptoms in pregnancy

Section: Symptoms
The Signs That The Pregnancy Hormones Have Definitely Hit

Hay fever can be aggravating at the best of times, but especially when you’re pregnant and you’re not sure which of your go-to medicines you can use. But there are ways to manage the symptoms and give yourself relief without harming your baby

A runny nose? Check. Itchy eyes? Check. Sneezing constantly? Check. Sounds like your hay fever has kicked in with a vengeance, which isn’t fun – especially when you can’t medicate as you normally would.

Get clued up on what medications are safe to take and how you can cope with your allergies during your pregnancy while making sure your baby is kept safe.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is very common in the UK and affects around one in five adults.

‘It’s a “rhinitis” – a condition where something makes the inside of your nose inflamed,’ says Dr Ellie Cannon, author of Keep Calm: The New Mum's Manual. ‘It can be caused by various different allergens, such as pollen, animal fur and dust.’

In addition to causing sneezing, itching and a runny nose, hay fever may also have an effect on your eyes and sinuses, making them watery and itchy.

Are hay fever symptoms any different during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, hormone changes can increase the chances of you feeling bunged up and full of cold – which can get worse during hay fever season.

‘Pregnancy has an effect on your immune system and hay fever is a condition cause by the immune system,’ Dr Ellie explains. ‘But it’s hard to tell if it’s worse, or just feels worse, during pregnancy as you can’t take your usual medication.’

Hay fever is very common in the UK and affects around one in five adults.

Is hay fever medication is safe to take during pregnancy?

While you may not be able to take your usual medicine, there are some things you can try instead.

‘Steroid nasal sprays such as Beconase or flixonase can be used,’ says Dr Ellie. This is because only a tiny amount goes into your blood stream, which passes on to your baby.

‘It’s best to avoid anti-histamines unless they have been prescribed by your GP,’ Dr Ellie advises. ‘You can also use saline nasal sprays, such as sterimar, to wash out the pollen and deterrants like haymax which keep pollen away from the nose.’ Both can be bought over the counter and won’t harm your baby.

Are there any other remedies?

If you wish to steer clear of medication altogether, you can try lessening your symptoms with various natural relief methods. Eating honey can help – and it’s the tastiest medicine ever. It’s thought that having a teaspoon each day can help your body build a natural defence against pollen.

You can also try inhaling the steam from a bowl of hot water with menthol or eucalyptus drops in it – like you would if you have a common cold. Another great tip is to check the pollen count each day to help you gauge how you might feel – and whether you want to try to stay indoors to reduce your chance of exposure.

‘The pollen count describes the number of pollen particles in one square metre of air – under 30 is low, more than 50 is high,’ explains Dr Ellie. ‘Most people find their hay fever symptoms start at a pollen count of 50. In any given day the pollen count rises to a peak in the early evening.’

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