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It’s springtime, and you’ve got seasonal allergies. Normally you’d take prescription antihistamines to relieve symptoms, but this year you’re expecting a baby. Is it still safe to take your allergy meds?

When you’re pregnant, everything you put in your body should be under close scrutiny. Things you never used to think twice about, such as enjoying fish, deli meat and alcohol, are now off-limits — and the same goes for some medications.

What’s Safe, What’s Not?

Certain drugs — even over-the-counter (OTC) medicines — are not recommended for women during pregnancy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rates the safety of medications during pregnancy using a letter-grade scale, with A-rated drugs considered safe for pregnant women and B-rated drugs considered generally safe when used “with caution.” Drugs rated as C or below are generally not recommended during pregnancy. Here are the risk classifications for a few of the most common allergy medications:

 

Medication

Brand Name

FDA Pregnancy Safety Rating

Fexofenadine

Allegra

C

Diphenhydramine

Benadryl

B

Chlorpheniramine

Chlor-Trimeton

B

Loratadine

Claritin

B

Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride

Novafed

B

Clemastine fumarate

Tavist

B

Certirizine

Zyrtec

B

While most allergy medications appear to be safe during pregnancy, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends chlorpheniramine as the antihistamine of choice for pregnant women. Pseudoephedrine is recommended as the oral decongestant of choice, but it shouldn’t be used during the first trimester. OTC pain relievers can also help with minor seasonal allergy symptoms, but you should avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. The best rule of thumb is to never begin taking any medication before clearing it with your doctor first.

The safest way to tackle seasonal allergies when you’re pregnant is to adjust your lifestyle to avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. If you’re having trouble shaking those coughs, sneezes and sniffles, try these modifications:

  • Avoid going outside when your or your neighbor’s lawn is being mowed.
  • Consider purchasing a HEPA filter or air purifier for your home.
  • Enjoy the outdoors in the mornings and evenings, when pollen is less active.
  • Keep doors and windows — including car windows — closed at all times.
  • Sign up to receive the National Allergy Bureau’s daily pollen alert emails, and stay inside on days when the pollen count is high.
  • Take a shower immediately after being outside and change your clothes.
  • Vacuum and dust your home more frequently. Don’t forget to vacuum drapes and furniture.

Now that you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to focus on good health for both your baby and you. Make an appointment with a local physician specialized in obstetrics. They can help you with selection of a prenatal vitamin, healthy pregnancy diet, pregnancy-friendly exercise routine and advice on how to minimize other important health risks. To find a local obstetrician, visit BarstowHospital.com or call Barstow Community Hospital’s Find A Physician service at (760) 405‑8110.

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