What Are Some of the Common Pregnancy Allergies?
Itchy, Sneezy Allergies
Ah Spring - Ah-Choo! Allergies can be a real bother. Runny nose, itchy eyes, scratching in places almost to the point of bleeding, coughing and skin rashes are all associated with allergic reactions. An allergy is defined as an exaggerated immune system response to contact with a foreign substance. For people who do not have an allergic response, life can be a breeze - but for those who do, such things as dust mites, pollen, molds, animal dander and certain foods can create a physical reaction that can be most unpleasant. If this is you - then you are "allergic" and you are part of a group of about 50 million North Americans who are affected by allergic conditions.
The most common allergic condition is allergic rhinitis, or hay fever - the seasonal nasal runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes that comes along with pollens. If you suffer with these allergy symptoms year round, then there are other allergens affecting the condition. You may experience itchy ears, nose and throat, post nasal drip and a stuffy nose that just won't clear no matter how hard you blow it.
Food And Skin Allergies
Food allergies can cause rashes such as hives, which are itchy, raised welts. Medications can also cause hives. Anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening allergic reaction, can affect several organs during an episode. This allergic response usually comes from a food allergy (certain nuts or melons are common causes), or through an injection (bee sting). Hives, nasal congestion, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, swelling in the throat, shortness of breath, low blood pressure or shock, and in some cases, even death, are all symptoms of this allergic reaction.
Skin allergies, often the result of grasses, weeds, soaps and perfumes, as well as certain fibers like wool, manifest as allergic eczema with itching, rashes, and dry skin. Latex, dyes in fabric, metals, chemicals and cosmetics are all sources of allergic contact dermatitis, inflammation of the skin that is touched by any of these substances.
Dealing With Allergies When Pregnant
When a woman is pregnant, allergies take on a whole new perspective as dealing with them can become quite a challenge. There are, of course, myriad allergy products and allergy treatments to address the symptoms, but some of them may not be suitable for a pregnant woman, possibly causing harm to her unborn baby. Allergy testing is usually deferred during pregnancy because the risk of anaphylaxis is present and if a woman experiences anaphyactic shock, there is a reduction in blood and oxygen to the baby, possibly causing serious problems.
According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), no drugs are considered to be totally safe during pregnancy. However, the FDA has assigned risk categories to medications based on use in pregnancy. In pregnancy category A, there are medications that have shown to be safe through good studies in pregnant women in the first trimester. There are very few medications in this category. Category B have good animal studies but no human studies are available. Pregnancy category C medication can have negative results in animal testing, but the benefits may outweigh the risks in humans. Category D show definite risk to animal fetuses but, again, in humans the benefits may outweigh the risks. Category X is a no-go zone. They definitely have serious risks for birth defects in both animals and humans.
Effects Of Allergy Treatments
Before any allergy treatment is pursued, there must be a thorough discussion of the potential risks of allergy products to the pregnant woman and her baby. There are several allergy journals available online that give a list of drugs and treatments. Most allergy treatments should be avoided during pregnancy. Some allergy shots carry a risk of anaphylaxis during pregnancy, resulting in trauma to the mother and harm to the baby. Medicated nasal sprays, most falling in category B, are safe for a woman to use - but check the category first. There are some containing steroids that fall into category C, unsafe. Decongestants should be avoided for the first trimester, and are classified as category C. Anti-histamines, a preferred method of dealing with allergic rhinitis during pregnancy are mostly category B and can be used. Rhinitis of pregnancy does not respond well to most allergy medications, but the use of nasal saline can be very effective. It is safe, salt water, and works well. It is probably the best way to deal with the stuffy nose and sneezing that is attendant allergies when a woman is pregnant.
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