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Hayfever in pregnancy

The hayfever season starts in the spring. So what are the alternatives to medication, if the pollen gets to you?

Posted: 12 May 2010
by Laura Lee Davies

For some hayfever sufferers, pregnancy will actually alleviate their symptoms and they may pass through the summer months unaffected. However, while some women will see no change in their usual hayfever pattern, the most severe cases of hayfever are likely to be as bad as usual.

It is worth seeing your doctor and asking about medication as some doctors believe that certain treatments are fine to use in pregnancy whilst others may advise against them.
Generally, you will find most manufacturers still advise against using their allergy-relieving medications if you are pregnant (or indeed if you are breastfeeding). Thus it is useful to find other ways to lessen the threat of being affected in more natural ways, where you can.

When and where is hay fever a problem?
Hay fever manifests itself in different ways, depending on what pollen and spores trigger the attack. Some sufferers might see symptoms as early as February when trees like the birch begin to spring into action. Pollen-releasing triggers continue into the autumn as different plants pollenate. However, usually the first bout of hayfever attacks comes in April, with the majority of sufferers finding the most common pollen reactions in June and July, when grasses release their pollen.

When the pollen count is over 50, you are more likely to experience the symptoms of hay fever. This count measures the density of pollen in the air. Most weather forecasts and reports in newspapers and websites (and on television forecasts during summer months) will flag up pollen counts as well as 'air quality'. Dry, dusty, windy weather is, understandably, worse than rainy weather, for spreading pollen about. The pollen is carried on the hot air in the summer, which makes it most potent later in the day when it has had time to rise and spread about.

Avoiding the symptoms
As it is best not to take medication where possible, you are advised to avoid being exposed to pollen in the first place. Try to get out and about in the morning, when pollen has been released but hasn't had a chance to rise into the air.

  • Keep your face and hands clean- When you do go out - whether you are in the town or the country - make sure you wash hands and your face when you get inside. This helps to clean away sticky pollen and summer dust. Wash your hair before bedtime to avoid your pillow spreading the day's debris into your face.

  • Be aware of pets and their fur - If you are very sensitive to cat dander, for example, you will already be trying to avoid contact with animals. However, if you have pets and don't get any problem reactions, do bear in mind that they will be out there in the summer, rolling around in the garden and gathering up all that lovely pollen to bring back into your home. If you can (and try to get someone else to do this), rub them down with a damp cloth at the end of the day to clear away excess garden dust.

  • Clean the house - If possible, get someone else to do your dusting for you, or rub down dusty shelves etc with a damp cloth, that traps the particles rather than blowing them up into the air in the room.

  • Reach for the air-conditioning - It seems a shame to close windows and switch on the air-conditioning but it's worthwhile, especially in the car, when you are pregnant.

  • Get your specs on - Hiding your eyes - especially with sunglasses which wrap around the eye - can help to reduce the effects of pollen on your eyes and face.

  • Make your home a smoke-free environment - Try to avoid smoke and dusty atmospheres. If this is unavoidable in your workplace, you should speak to your manager as there it is no longer acceptable that any worker should be in an environment which compromises their health, be it due to long term conditions like asthma or short term conditions like pregnancy and/or hay fever.

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