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Allergy medications and pregnancy: What's safe?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/allergy-medications/AN00314
- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
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Allergy medications and pregnancy: What's safe?
Is it safe to take Claritin or other allergy medications during pregnancy?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Allergy medications are sometimes recommended during pregnancy. Before you take any medication during pregnancy, however, it's important to weigh the severity of your symptoms against the possible risks to your baby.
For example, loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) is considered a category B drug — which means that animal studies haven't shown any risks to unborn babies whose mothers take the drug. Although there are no guarantees about safety during pregnancy, drugs in this class are often the best option when medication is needed during pregnancy.
If you're struggling with allergy symptoms, it might help to:
- Avoid triggers. Limit your exposure to anything that triggers your allergy symptoms.
- Try saline nasal spray. Over-the-counter saline nasal spray can help ease nasal dryness, bleeding and congestion. Use the spray as often as needed.
- Rinse your nasal cavity with a neti pot. Neti pots are available in most pharmacies. Once or twice a day, fill the neti pot with an over-the-counter saline nasal solution. Then tilt your head over the sink, place the spout of the neti pot in your upper nostril and gently pour in the saline solution. As you pour, the saline solution will flow through your nasal cavity and out your lower nostril. Repeat on the other side. If you'd rather make your own irrigation solution, use water that's distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller. Also be sure to rinse the neti pot after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water. Leave the rinsed neti pot open to air-dry.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Exercise helps reduce nasal inflammation.
- Use nasal strips at night. Over-the-counter adhesive nasal strips — such as Breathe Right and Breathe Clear — can help keep your nasal passages open while you're sleeping.
If these tips don't relieve your allergy symptoms, remember that allergy medications aren't necessarily off-limits during pregnancy. Work with your health care provider to choose the safest medication for you and your baby.Next question
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- Schatz M. Recognition and management of allergic disease during pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 9, 2012.
- Garavello W, et al. Nasal lavage in pregnant women with seasonal allergic rhinitis: A randomized study. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology. 2010;151:137.
- Schwarz EB, et al. Risk of hypospadias in offspring of women using loratadine during pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Drug Safety. 2008;31:775.
- Briggs GG, et al. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011:850.
- Naegleria FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/faqs.html. Accessed Jan. 9, 2012.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 6, 2011.