Watery eyes, runny nose & itchy throat: sound familiar? If you’re suffering with hay fever in pregnancy, we’ve got the secret to soothe those symptoms

With hay fever season upon us, it’s time to prepare for the pollen. 

If this is your first time experiencing hay fever in pregnancy or you’re just looking for some top tips on how best to cope – fear not because we’ve got everything you need to help soothe your symptoms this season.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever (also known as seasonal rhinitis) is an allergic reaction to pollen – a fine powder from plants including trees, grasses and weeds. 

The seasonal allergy spikes between March and September when it gets warmer, windy and humid. 

As irritating as pollen is to those who suffer, it’s all part of the plants reproductive cycle. However, it’s the proteins in the pollen powder that can cause irritation and inflammation of the lining of the nose, eyes, and throat. The allergic reaction is then triggered by the chemical histamine, produced by the body.

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

As a nation, we love it when the sun comes out. But for those with hay fever, it can trigger some of the below symptoms:

• Runny or blocked nose 
• Sneezing and coughing 
• Itchy, red and watery eyes 
• Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
• Loss of smell
• Headache
• Tiredness
• Earache 

Some people may confuse symptoms for a cold (it can feel like a bad cold), but hay fever is not caused by a virus – just pollen. Symptoms such as itchy eyes and throat are notable signs of hay fever and something that isn’t typically experienced with a cold virus.

How does hay fever affect my pregnancy?

The good news is that pollen and hay fever itself won’t affect your baby – phew. However, you may find you can become more sensitive to pollen during your pregnancy, and this can have an impact on your general wellbeing, including causing lack of sleep.

Typically, hay fever symptoms can occur at any time during your pregnancy. Don’t forget though, this will depend on the time of year too.

What can I do to soothe hay fever during pregnancy?

Whether you’ve always struggled with hay fever, or your body is reacting for the first time, soothing the symptoms is top of your priority list. Especially if you’re pregnant, what were once your go-to products may not be safe for you to take anymore.

Keeping you and your baby safe is super important, so there are a few methods and small lifestyle changes you can try to help manage your symptoms.

Preventative measures 

As much as we’d love there to be an immediate cure to hay fever, there isn’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t limit your exposure to pollen. So, try these preventative measures to give yourself the best chance of preventing symptoms developing in the first place.

Check the pollen count

First thing in the morning, check the pollen count and make this part of your daily routine during pollen season. If it’s looking high, get one step ahead and put the appropriate measures in place so you can still enjoy the sunshine.

Shower & change your clothes 

If you’ve been outside and exposed to pollen, it’s best to shower off the pollen from your skin and hair and to change your clothes too. This way, you’ll avoid bringing the pollen inside and causing a flare up.

Wear wraparound sunglasses

We get it – these might not be your first choice, but they are a godsend for protecting your eyes from the pollen, especially when it’s windy. With no gaps at the side for pollen to sneak in like regular sunglasses, you’ll be thanking us later.

Keep windows & doors shut

When it’s warm outside, it’s only natural to open the windows and doors to let the air in. But to help your hay fever symptoms, try to keep these shut throughout the day. Instead, why not use a rotating fan or consider air conditioning to keep cool?

Don’t dry your clothes outside 

After you’ve washed the pollen off your clothes, the last thing you should do is put them out to dry outside. This is just an open invitation for the pollen to waltz back into your house and trigger your symptoms. Don’t undo your hard work - dry your clothes inside.

Consider an air purifier 

Although they can be a little on the pricey side, they can be effective. Let the purifier remove all the pollen, pollutants and other unwanted air particles from your room, so you can breathe easy knowing your symptoms can be reduced.

Vacuum & dust with a damp cloth

Dust is almost as annoying as pollen, but to remove any pollen from surfaces in your house, use a damp cloth to lift it away – the cloth must be damp for this to work better. Running the vacuum round will also help remove any pollen from the floor, too.

Other methods

As well as the preventative measures described above, there are some drug-free products you can try that can help.

Saline nasal sprays

Although several hay fever nasal sprays are off the list due to the ingredients, you can still use Boots Saline Nasal Spray which is steroid and drug free. If hay fever is causing your nose to feel blocked, this provides rapid decongestion so you can breathe easier throughout the day. 

Barrier balms

Using a dab of a hay fever barrier balm, such as HayMax Pure Organic Drug-Free Allergen Barrier Balm around the nostrils and below each eye can help trap pollen grains and help prevent symptoms developing. 

Allergy wipes 

As hay fever affects the eyes and nose the most, sometimes you just need a quick fix. Kleenex Water Fresh Allergy Wipes can wipe away allergens, leaving your face feeling refreshed and (hopefully) less irritated by pollen.

For itchy eyes 

If your eyes just won’t stop itching or you’ve rubbed them until they’re stinging, you’ll need some quick relief. We recommend using a cold compress such as a flannel and dabbing it on your eyes until the irritation begins to subside. 

What if these don’t work?

There’s no magic wand we can wave to make the symptoms of hay fever completely disappear (we’re still wishing). Whilst the methods above may work for some, they may not work for others depending on the severity of your allergy. So, what can you do? To help navigate your way through hay fever symptoms in pregnancy, we'd recommend a visit to your GP so they can advise on the best option for you.

It’s important to note that not all medications can be taken safely during pregnancy, as some may affect the development and growth of your baby, so seek advice from your pharmacist or GP before taking any medication to relieve hay fever symptoms.