Hay Fever Medication and Pregnancy

Get the Right Hay Fever Medication to Take During Pregnancy

People who get hay fever may find some of their symptoms worsen during pregnancy. Pregnant women can also be more prone to hay fever triggers due to the hormonal changes caused by pregnancy.

Although medicines are available to treat the symptoms of hay fever, not all commonly available hay fever treatments are suitable for pregnant women. Superdrug Online Doctor can provide advice and medication to help manage the symptoms of hay fever while pregnant.

Dr Clair Grainger

Medically reviewed by

Dr Clair Grainger

Last reviewed: 26 Apr 2022

More About Hay Fever Medication and Pregnancy

Can You Take Hay Fever Medication When Pregnant?

Yes, it is usually fine to take hay fever medication while you are pregnant. However, not all hay fever treatments are safe and suitable for pregnant women, so you should speak to a doctor before taking any hay fever medication.

What hay fever medication is safe in pregnancy?

There are several types of medication available for hay fever that may be safe to use during pregnancy. They include:

  • Most nasal sprays and eye drops
  • Antihistamines containing:
  • Loratadine
  • Cetirizine
  • Chlorphenamine - this is not usually recommended as it causes drowsiness

You should speak to your doctor before taking any hay fever medication while pregnant.

What’s the Best Hay Fever Treatment When Pregnant?

The best treatments available for hay fever during pregnancy will be what’s most suitable for you, but this is likely to be oral antihistamines. If these do not help to relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend nasal sprays and eye drops.

It is important to note that decongestant medicines, the type that helps relieve a blocked nose, are not usually recommended during any stage of pregnancy. This is because they contain the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, which can reduce the blood flow to the placenta and unborn baby.

Non drowsy antihistamines

Non drowsy antihistamines are often considered the better choice for relieving allergy symptoms because they are less likely to make you feel sleepy. There are several different non drowsy antihistamines available, including:

  • Loratadine
  • Cetirizine
  • Fexofenadine

Loratadine in pregnancy

Loratadine is generally considered to be safe for use during pregnancy to help treat the symptoms of hay fever. Research has shown that loratadine is not known to cause birth defects or harm to a baby if taken during pregnancy.

Loratadine is available in liquid or tablet form. It is available on prescription or over the counter but you should get advice from your doctor before taking it if you are pregnant.

Cetirizine in pregnancy

Cetirizine is a non drowsy antihistamine used to treat hay fever. There is no evidence available to suggest that it is harmful during pregnancy.

Cetirizine is available on prescription but can also be bought over the counter. Although it is non drowsy, some people find it still makes them feel sleepy. Cetirizine can also cause side effects, such as:

  • dry mouth
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • feeling sick (nausea)

Fexofenadine in pregnancy

Fexofenadine is an antihistamine that is only available in tablet form and can be bought without prescription. Although emerging research suggests fexofenadine may be safe for use during pregnancy, it isn’t usually recommended for use during pregnancy in the UK.

Hay fever nasal sprays and eye drops

There are nasal sprays and eye drops available to treat hay fever symptoms. Nasal sprays often contain one of the following medicines:

  • corticosteroids
  • mast cell stabilisers
  • antihistamines

Nasal sprays may also be prescribed with eye drops that contain mast cell stabilisers or antihistamines. Although some of these treatments are available to buy over the counter, it is best to consult a doctor first. That’s because small amounts of the medicines found in nasal sprays and eye drops can pass into the bloodstream and reach a baby. Although it is unlikely to cause adverse effects, it is best to get a doctor’s advice beforehand.

Drowsy antihistamines

Drowsy antihistamines are more likely to make you feel sleepy. They include chlorphenamine, which is also known as Piriton. In most cases these are not recommended for pregnant women.

Chlorphenamine is used to treat the symptoms of allergies, including hay fever. It is available on prescription as well as over the counter. If you are pregnant it’s sensible to ask your doctor or midwife before starting any medications.

For some women it is safe to take chlorphenamine in pregnancy as there is no evidence to suggest that it is harmful for your baby. Your doctor may recommend a non drowsy antihistamine before advising Chlorphenamine in pregnancy because it can cause side effects.

Is Hay Fever Worse When Pregnant?

Pregnancy can make you more sensitive to your allergy triggers and hay fever due to the hormonal changes caused during pregnancy. You may also notice that nasal congestion is worse.

Symptoms of hay fever in pregnancy

The symptoms of hay fever include:

  • A runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose, and ears
  • red, watery, itchy eyes
  • loss of your sense of smell
  • headache
  • earache
  • pain around your forehead and temples
  • feeling tired

If you experience hay fever symptoms during pregnancy, you may notice that your nose feels more blocked than usual. The worsening of these symptoms can be caused by the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.

Can hay fever be dangerous for pregnant women?

No, hay fever is not more dangerous if you are pregnant, and won’t cause harm to your unborn baby. However, when you are pregnant you may notice that you are more sensitive to hay fever triggers, such as pollen. Hay fever symptoms can be worse while pregnant, especially if you experience:

  • a runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • headaches
  • lack of sleep

If you are experiencing any symptoms during pregnancy it’s always a good idea to have a chat with your GP or midwife to make sure there are no other possible underlying causes.

Can hay fever cause complications for an unborn baby?

No, regular day to day hay fever is unlikely to cause complications for an unborn baby.

How to Prevent Hay Fever While Pregnant

You can prevent hay fever while pregnant by following these useful tips:

  • keep an eye on the pollen count and stay indoors when it is at its highest
  • trap pollen and dust to stop it from entering your nose by smearing petroleum jelly around your nostrils
  • don’t hang your washing outside to dry because pollen can stick to it
  • remove pollen covered clothes and wash immediately if you’ve been outside and wash your hair to stop pollen transferring onto furniture or bedding
  • sunglasses can help stop pollen from irritating your eyes, wraparound types are best
  • keep windows and doors closed as much as possible
  • do not cut or walk on grass