1. Avoid unnecessary exposure to nasal allergens and pollutants, such as smog and cigarette smoke.
2. Drink even more water each day.
3. Flush your nasal passages with saltwater nose drops several times a
day. These are available without prescription, or you can make your own: a
quarter teaspoon of salt to a cup of water.
4. Use a facial steamer (basically a hot mist vaporizer attached to
a face mask) to "steam clean" your nasal passages and sinuses.
5. Consider nasal sprays (decongestants, antihistamines). In
theory, medicines that constrict the blood vessels of the nose may enter the
bloodstream and constrict the blood vessels of the uterus or placenta;
therefore, decongestants should be used only under a doctor's supervision, and
only in the dosage and frequency your doctor recommends. (Women with decreased
placental circulation should be particularly careful about taking any form of
inhaled or oral decongestants.) Some nasal sprays are safer than others but
except for saltwater (or saline) nasal spray, none should be used without first
consulting your doctor.
- AfrinR (oxymetazoline) when used only twice a day and for a couple of days
have not been shown to cause harmful effects on the developing baby.
- Inhaled nasal steroids (e.g., Vancenase and Beconase) are in the "probably
safe" category, especially when taken only a couple of times a day and for a
short period of time. Best to stick with the lower potency inhaled steroids
unless advised by your doctor.
- Cromolyn (Intal) is safe to take during pregnancy. It is not a
decongestant, a steroid, or antihistamine, but rather a medication that when
taken over a long period of time lessens nasal congestion due to allergies. It
is especially helpful during seasonal allergic rhinitis or hayfever. It is not
helpful during an acute attack of a stuffy nose.
- Nasal or oral decongestants that contain the following compounds have been
shown to be possibly harmful to the developing baby and should not be taken
unless all other alternatives have been tried and your doctor judges that the
benefits outweigh the risks: ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, Neo-synephrine,
phenylephrine. The main worry with these decongestants is that because they
constrict the vessels in the airway passages, they may also constrict the blood
vessels delivering blood to the baby.
- Antihistamines. Some antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine and
tripelennamine, are categorized as safe to take during pregnancy (green light).
Others are recommended only with reservation (yellow light), such as those
containing brompheniramine, diphenhydramine, terfenadine, and clemastine. These
have been implicated in causing eye damage in premature infants if taken in the
last two weeks of pregnancy, yet this is a rare finding.
- If you have been taking allergy shots before becoming pregnant, your doctor
may advise continuing these shots during your pregnancy, but because reactivity
to these injections may change during pregnancy, your doctor may elect to change
the dosage. It is unlikely that your doctor would advise starting allergy shots
during a pregnancy.
- Cough syrups should be taken with caution while pregnant and are best
limited to nighttime-use or to severe coughs. Available studies have shown no
link between guaifenesin and fetal defects.