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Excessive sneezing, watery and itchy eyes and a sometimes-stuffy, sometimes-drippy nose...when pregnancy meets allergies, the result isn't pretty. The trouble with allergies while you're expecting is that aside from being limited in the medications that are safe to take, being pregnant can cause symptoms in women who've never suffered from allergies before, and pregnancy hormones can lead to extra swelling in nasal passages, making symptoms worse.
So what can you do to find allergy relief during pregnancy, especially in a year that experts say may be the worst season yet? We talked to two experts, Dr. Paul Karpecki, an optometrist based in Lexington, Kentucky, and Sara Chana a New York City-based homeopath and herbalist, to find out.
Ask your doctor about safe allergy medications for pregnancy: As you may know, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives all over-the-counter and prescription drugs a category rating such as A, B or C. Many of the most popular allergy medications including Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, Benedryl and Flonase all fall under class B, which means they're frequently used during pregnancy and don't appear to cause problems or birth defects.
Try safe eye drops for pregnancy: All eye drops used to have a class C rating, which means that adequate human studies are lacking and there is a chance of harm to developing babies. Now, one class B prescription eye drop, Lastacaft, has been introduced that is safer for curing those itchy, watery eyes. However, Dr. Karpecki notes that the only way for an eye drop to get into your system is through your tear duct. After you place the drop in your eye, he says to put your finger over the tear duct in the corner of your eye closest to your nose for a minute or so. That way it will all get absorbed in the eye right where you want it.
Focus on offense: Do everything you can (short of living in a bubble of course) to limit your exposure to allergens. Try to stay indoors on high pollen days if you can. If you do go outside, wear sunglasses to shield the pollen from your eyes, and when you come in, change your clothing right away. Keep windows closed in your home and in the car, and turn off ceiling fans, which can stir up dust and allergens.
Consider supplements that can ease symptoms: Fish oil can help ease dry eye issues during allergy season, says Dr. Karpecki. He also recommends vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system which may already be taking a hit due to seasonal allergies. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Try homeopathy: Even if you've never thought about trying a homeopathic remedy, this might be the time to venture in that direction. You should always check with your doctor or midwife, but in general homeopathic remedies are completely safe for pregnancy. You can work with a homeopath to find a specific remedy for your symptoms or you can try a general homeopathic solution such as Boiron Allergy. You simply dissolve the tablets under your tongue three times a day.
Wash your face, hair and nose: Every time you come inside, wash your face, making sure to concentrate on your eyelashes and eyebrows (sorry mascara wearers!) because they're designed to collect debris and pollen. If you often wake up with puffy eyes and a stuffed up nose, wash your hair before bed to remove allergens so you aren't sleeping with them all night. And finally, though it may seem wacky, cleansing your nasal passages using a neti pot can work wonders for allergy sufferers. Create a solution of distilled water and one teaspoon of Kosher pickling salt. Chana suggests adding one teaspoon of baking soda as well because it has an anti-inflammatory affect.
Julie Seguss loves all things health and fitness, and holds a personal trainer certification from the American Council on Exercise. Find more from Julie at Inhabitots.