Pregancy can impact allergies and asthma, but proper management should ease the symptoms.
Approximately seven percent of pregnant women are affected by asthma.
The answer to whether pregnancy can make allergies worse is a resounding ... maybe. Yes, pregnancy can make allergies worse for some women, but it also seems to improve symptoms for others. And a third group of women see no change in their allergy symptoms at all during their pregnancies.
Asthma is a slightly different story. Approximately seven percent of pregnant women are affected by asthma. This condition does tend to worsen in the late second and early third trimesters. However, the good news is that many women tend to have fewer asthma symptoms in the month before they deliver.
It is important for women with asthma to make sure their symptoms are kept under control during pregnancy.
Uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy can lead to complications, such as high blood pressure and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy. In the worst-case scenario, uncontrolled asthma could result in severe injury or death for both the mother and her developing baby.
Fortunately, controlling both asthma and allergies is often a routine exercise, and when they are controlled, the expected outcome for mother and baby is excellent. Of course, decisions concerning allergy treatment and the use of medications during pregnancy should be discussed with your doctor.
No matter what medications you and your doctor agree are best for you, limiting exposure to allergens (such as dust, pollen, and pet dander) remains a key part of allergy treatment. In many cases, pregnant women do not want to take allergy medications for fear of harming their babies.
It’s important to realize that not treating your allergies or asthma may have negative affects on the baby, and that many allergy medicines are safe for your unborn child. Talk to your doctor about approved medications.
The same logic that applies to preventing everyday allergies applies to treating allergies during pregnancy. This includes using nasal saline rinses or sprays, discarding down-filled pillows in favor of synthetic fiber pillows, washing sheets and pillowcases in hot water to kill dust mites, and vacuuming with a HEPA filter to prevent spreading allergens through the air when you vacuum. Remove pets from your home if you are allergic to them, or at least ban them from the bedroom and bathe them often.
Control and treatment of your allergies and asthma, which includes check-ups with your doctor to monitor symptoms and treatments, will help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
About the author
Boyan Hadjiev, MD, has been a practicing physician for five years. He is double board certified in Internal Medicine, (2003), and Allergy and Immunology, (2005).