Pregnancy is never easy. Most expecting moms will experience various health problems1, including anemia, urinary tract infection, and depression.
You will also feel different types of discomfort, such as morning sickness, fatigue, swelling, headaches, and backaches.
Unfortunately, these health issues do not stop here. If you have allergic rhinitis, the symptoms can either become worse or stay the same during pregnancy.
Although different types of allergies have been established and discussed for years, pregnancy rhinitis is one of the latest that has gained ground.
Pregnancy rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis of pregnancy pertains to nasal congestion that can occur during the gestation period, usually within the last six weeks, without other signs or symptoms of a respiratory tract infection. It has no known allergic causes and usually disappears within two weeks after delivery.2
Pregnancy rhinitis affects as many as 39 percent of pregnant women.3
Common symptoms of this condition include sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion. Nasal secretions can vary from watery to thick in terms of consistency.
Cause of Pregnancy Rhinitis
This type of allergic rhinitis can be caused by different factors, foremost of which are:
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy. Fluctuations in the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones can increase the activities of the serous-mucous glands and their vasculature in the nasal mucosa, causing the onset or aggravation of the symptoms.4
- Extra fluid in the body. During pregnancy, the body makes and retains more blood and fluids, which is the primary cause of swelling in various areas, including the legs and nasal passages. The swollen blood vessels can lead to nasal congestion.5
- Formation of HGH. During pregnancy, the placenta creates a variant of the human growth hormone or HGH. This hormone has been linked with nasal symptoms, including nasal congestion, in other conditions.6
Seasonal Allergy During Pregnancy
Aside from pregnancy rhinitis, expecting moms can also suffer from seasonal allergies during this period.
Your seasonal allergy can start acting up when you are surrounded by and inhale pollen from grass, trees, ragweed, and other types of weeds.7
Spring allergies usually pop up at around February and end in early summer. On the other hand, fall allergies can start appearing at the end of summer and continue until late fall.
Treating and Managing Allergic Rhinitis During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, you have to be a bit more careful in treating and managing your allergic rhinitis.
Following these tips can help you reduce the symptoms of your allergic rhinitis safely and effectively:
1. Make some lifestyle changes.
Some simple changes in your daily activities can help you manage and alleviate the symptoms of your allergic rhinitis.
Examples8 of these are:
- Raising the head of your bed. Use more pillows or arrange the mattress so that your entire body is situated at a 30- or 45-degree angle. This elevated position can help clear your nasal passages while you are resting or sleeping.
- Using a humidifier in your bedroom and other areas in your home. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, making it less dry. This will help alleviate nasal congestion and irritation.
- Working out regularly. Regular exercise also helps relieve nasal congestion. It enables you to get sufficient quality sleep as well.
2. Reduce your exposure to allergens.
Whether you have seasonal or pregnancy allergic rhinitis, minimizing your exposure to allergens will help you manage your symptoms better.
Here are some tips to remember:9
- Check the pollen count daily. Avoid going out or spending too much time outdoors when the pollen count is high.
- Wear a mask when you can’t avoid going out. A protective filter mask prevents you from inhaling pollen, dust, smoke, and other allergens when you have to see your doctor, go grocery shopping, or water your garden.
- Take a shower and change your clothes after going outside. Doing so allows you to remove pollen sticking to your hair, skin, and clothing.
- Keep your windows closed. Pollen from trees, grass, and weeds outside can be blown inside your bedroom and other rooms when your windows are open.
- If you have furry pets, keep them outdoors or confine them in one or two rooms that you don’t frequent. Pet dander is also a known allergen, so try to avoid or reduce exposure to this.
3. Use nasal relief products.
Nasal relief products are your safest options for alleviating your uncomfortable allergy symptoms.
Below are the most recommended products:
- Over-the-counter isotonic saline nasal spray. It is easy and safe to use (it does not contain any drugs)10 and sterile when sprayed from the container.
- Homemade saline nasal spray. Combine 8 ounces of warm distilled water and 1/4 salt. Place the solution in a spray or squeeze bottle or neti pot and use it to rinse and soothe your nasal passages.11
- External nasal dilators. Attach a nasal strip to the outer nostrils, which will open the nasal passages and help reduce decongestion, allowing you to breathe easier.
After using a nasal spray, try to remove the nasal debris with aspirators. Removing them will help you minimize nasal congestion.
4. Consult your doctor for safe medical treatment options.
If your allergic rhinitis is severe and making you uncomfortable, you may need to take medication to minimize and get relief from your symptoms.
However, avoid taking the prescription or over-the-counter allergy medicines you were taking before your pregnancy since they may not be safe for you and your child. See your practitioner first to know what medications you can safely take during pregnancy.
Your specialist may recommend antihistamine tablets in the UAE for treating allergic rhinitis during pregnancy. Many brands are considered safe for expecting moms to take.
Allergy shots are considered safe for expecting moms. However, you should get them only if you have been receiving them regularly before becoming pregnant.12
If you have not had allergy shots before or it has been years since you got one, it is not a good idea to start getting them during pregnancy.13 An allergy shot can trigger changes in your fluctuating immune system, which can cause unexpected and unpleasant reactions.
Having allergic rhinitis during pregnancy is not life-threatening, but its symptoms can be uncomfortable and interfere with your daily activities.
If your allergic rhinitis is making you uncomfortable, see your OB-GYN first to find out which treatment or medicine you can take safely.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnancy Complications. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-complications.html. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
2 National Library of Medicine – National Center for Biotechnology Information. Rhinitis as a cause of respiratory disorders during pregnancy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22826069/. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
3 National Library of Medicine – National Center for Biotechnology Information. Rhinitis as a cause of respiratory disorders during pregnancy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22826069/. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
4 National Library of Medicine – National Center for Biotechnology Information. Rhinitis as a cause of respiratory disorders during pregnancy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22826069/. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
5 UT Southwestern Medical Center. Baby (and tissues!) on board: Tips for managing pregnancy rhinitis. https://utswmed.org/medblog/pregnancy-stuffy-nose-rhinitis/. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
6 UT Southwestern Medical Center. Baby (and tissues!) on board: Tips for managing pregnancy rhinitis. https://utswmed.org/medblog/pregnancy-stuffy-nose-rhinitis/. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
7 Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Pollen Allergy. https://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
8 UT Southwestern Medical Center. Baby (and tissues!) on board: Tips for managing pregnancy rhinitis. https://utswmed.org/medblog/pregnancy-stuffy-nose-rhinitis/. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
9 Healthline Media. How to Treat Seasonal Allergies During Pregnancy. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/allergies#athome-treatments. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
10 Verywell Health. Treating Allergies During Pregnancy. https://www.verywellhealth.com/managing-allergies-during-pregnancy-82666. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
11 Healthline Media. How to Treat Seasonal Allergies During Pregnancy. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/allergies#athome-treatments. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
12 Verywell Health. Treating Allergies During Pregnancy. https://www.verywellhealth.com/managing-allergies-during-pregnancy-82666. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021
13 American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Pregnancy and Allergies. https://acaai.org/allergies/who-has-allergies-and-why/pregnancy-and-allergies. Last visited 2nd Mar 2021