What Are the Guidelines in the UK for Pregnant Women Experiencing Seasonal Allergies?

In the joyous journey of pregnancy, the body undergoes numerous changes. One such change can be an increase in allergy susceptibility - yes, even for those who never experienced symptoms before. With the arrival of spring, many pregnant women in the UK may find themselves dealing with seasonal allergies such as hay fever, allergic rhinitis or even exacerbated asthma symptoms. The symptoms can range from a simple nasal allergy to more serious issues that may pose a risk to the baby. In this article, we will explore the UK guidelines for managing seasonal allergies during pregnancy and offer a range of treatment options. We hope to equip you with the knowledge and strategies to deal with this seasonal phenomenon, making your pregnancy journey as comfortable as possible.

Recognising Seasonal Allergies in Pregnancy

Before entering into details about the guidelines, it is essential to recognise and differentiate seasonal allergies from other pregnancy symptoms. High pollen levels can trigger seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, causing uncomfortable symptoms that may feel amplified during pregnancy. Your immune system sees pollen as an allergen, leading to the release of histamines, which cause allergy symptoms.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, nasal congestion, and itchy throat. These symptoms might seem similar to those of a common cold, but if they persist for more than two weeks, it may indicate an allergy. Be aware, fever is not a symptom of allergies. If you experience fever during your pregnancy, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider immediately as it may indicate an infection.

Hay Fever and Its Impact on Pregnancy

Hay fever during pregnancy is common in the UK. It is mostly harmless for your baby, but the symptoms can cause discomfort for you. So, how does hay fever impact your pregnancy?

Being pregnant doesn't increase your likelihood of developing hay fever, but if you have a history of seasonal allergies, your symptoms might worsen during pregnancy. This is due to increased levels of hormones that can cause the lining of your nasal passages to swell, leading to more severe allergy symptoms.

Even though hay fever doesn't directly affect your baby, it can affect your quality of life and disturb your sleep, which, in turn, can have an indirect impact on your pregnancy. Rest is crucial during pregnancy, and a lack of sleep due to hay fever symptoms can cause fatigue and stress.

Treatment Options for Seasonal Allergies in Pregnancy

The first step to managing your seasonal allergies during pregnancy is to minimise your exposure to allergens. Stay indoors on high pollen count days, keep windows closed, and consider wearing sunglasses when outside to protect your eyes from pollen.

If avoiding exposure isn't enough, treatment options are available. The most common treatment for seasonal allergies is antihistamines. However, not all antihistamines are safe for use during pregnancy. Some antihistamines, such as fexofenadine, should only be used if the potential benefits outweigh the risks to your baby, according to the UK guidelines.

Nasal sprays, saline solutions, and eye drops can also be used to relieve symptoms. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any medication during pregnancy, even over-the-counter drugs.

Food Allergies and Pregnancy

Pregnancy can also cause changes in your reactions to certain foods. You might find yourself being allergic to foods that you previously enjoyed without any issue. Food allergies can cause symptoms ranging from mild (such as hives or itchy skin) to severe (like anaphylaxis).

If you suspect you have a food allergy, it's essential to get tested. If confirmed, the best therapy is the avoidance of the allergenic food. Pregnancy is not the best time for trial and error with possible allergens. You want to ensure you and your baby's safety first and foremost.

Scholarly Support and Online Resources

In the era of Google, getting information is just a click away. However, it's essential to ensure the information you're accessing is accurate and reliable. Scholarly articles and trusted health websites can provide valuable insights into dealing with seasonal allergies during pregnancy.

UK health authorities provide evidence-based guidelines and advice for pregnant women with allergies. The National Health Service (NHS) website is an excellent resource for trusted information. Other reliable sources include the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Bear in mind that each woman's body and pregnancy are unique. What works for one may not work for another. Therefore, always consult your healthcare provider before making any decisions about your allergy treatment during pregnancy. They can provide personalised guidance based on your medical history and current health status.

Remember, pregnancy is a journey, and like any journey, it might come with unexpected twists and turns. Seasonal allergies during pregnancy can be one of these surprises. However, by recognising the symptoms, understanding the impacts, exploring treatment options, and utilising scholarly support and online resources, you can manage these seasonal allergies effectively.

Occupational Rhinitis and Pregnancy

Occupational rhinitis, a condition triggered by substances at work, may also affect pregnant women. These workplace allergens can lead to symptoms similar to seasonal allergic rhinitis—nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. The exact allergens can vary depending on your job. They might include dust, mold, chemicals, or even certain foods.

If you're pregnant and suspect occupational rhinitis, you should consider discussing this with your employer and healthcare provider. Avoiding exposure is the best way to manage this condition. This might involve altering your job duties temporarily or implementing safety measures like wearing a mask.

In some cases, medical treatment may be necessary. Nasal sprays, specifically intranasal corticosteroids, are often recommended as they are generally safe for use during pregnancy. They can help reduce inflammation in your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. As always, consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medication during pregnancy.

The Interplay of Seasonal Allergies, Asthma, and Pregnancy

Pregnant women who have asthma need to be especially careful when it comes to seasonal allergies. Allergens can trigger asthma symptoms, leading to a potentially serious situation. Asthma symptoms could include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing.

If you're pregnant and have asthma, it's crucial to have an asthma management plan. This plan, developed with your healthcare provider, will detail how to monitor your symptoms, which medications to take, and when to seek emergency care.

Keep in mind that uncontrolled asthma can have side effects on both you and your baby. It can lead to high blood pressure, premature birth, and low birth weight. Therefore, managing your asthma and allergies effectively is paramount for the health of both you and your baby.


Navigating through seasonal allergies, including hay fever and allergic rhinitis, during pregnancy can be challenging. However, understanding the symptoms and knowing the treatment options can provide a sense of control.

Nasal sprays, antihistamines, and avoidance of allergens are common ways to manage these allergies. However, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any treatment to ensure the safety of you and your baby.

For trusted information, reliable resources like the NHS website, Pubmed, Google Scholar, the British Society for Allergy and Clin Immunol (BSACI), and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) can provide valuable insights and guidelines.

Having a management plan, especially if you have conditions like occupational rhinitis or asthma, is essential. Remember, each pregnancy journey is unique. Your healthcare provider can offer personalised advice based on your medical history and current health status.

Pregnancy, with all its joys and challenges, is a journey to cherish. Don't let seasonal allergies overshadow this special time in your life. Take charge, seek help when needed, and enjoy the ride! Accessed February 22, 2024.

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