Is it safe to take Claritin or other allergy medications during pregnancy?

Answers from Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.

Allergy medications are sometimes recommended during pregnancy. However, before you take an allergy medication, consider ways to reduce your symptoms, including:

  • Avoiding triggers. Limit your exposure to anything that triggers your allergy symptoms.
  • Saline nasal spray. Over-the-counter saline nasal spray can help ease symptoms. Use the spray as needed.
  • Nasal irrigation. Once a day or as needed, fill a neti pot with an over-the-counter saline nasal solution or specially prepared water. Then tilt your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in your upper nostril. Breathing through your open mouth, pour in the liquid so it drains through your lower nostril. Repeat on the other side. Water should be distilled or sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or passed through a filter designed to trap potentially infectious organisms.
  • Physical activity. Exercise helps reduce nasal inflammation.
  • Nasal strips. Over-the-counter adhesive nasal strips can help keep your nasal passages open.
  • Elevating the head of the bed. Raising the head of the bed by 30 to 45 degrees might help ease symptoms.

If you're considering taking an allergy medication, talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits. To manage mild allergy symptoms, he or she might recommend an oral antihistamine such as loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) or cetirizine (Zyrtec).

For moderate to severe symptoms, your health care provider might recommend a nonprescription corticosteroid spray at the lowest effective dose, in addition to an oral antihistamine. Options include budesonide nasal spray (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone nasal spray (Flonase) or mometasone nasal spray (Nasonex).

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Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.

Feb. 24, 2018 See more Expert Answers