Try Sublingual Immunotherapy as a safe allergy treatment option.
Chronic sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes can be overwhelming at times and affect your quality of life. Nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, and skin changes are normal during pregnancy especially in the later stages. However, chronic environmental allergies like molds, pollens, grasses, and bee/wasp stings cause the same symptoms as well as mouth tingling or itching.
Most antihistamines are considered safe in pregnancy and are prescribed routinely, however allergy treatment is still limited during this time of growth. Antihistamines Cetirizine (Zyrtec), Loratadine (Claritin), and nasal spray Cromolyn are all category B in pregnancy (meaning relatively safe). However, up to 90% of pregnant women take over-the-counter medications for allergy, respiratory, skin, and gastrointestinal changes during pregnancy despite there being no or little safety information. Only one nasal spray corticosteroid (budesonide) is considered safe for allergic rhinitis, with a category B rating as well.
Common natural remedies for seasonal allergies such as the bioflavonoid quercetin are not considered safe for pregnant women due to lack of data. Quercetin is a compound found in brightly coloured fruits/vegetables that stabilize the histamine response. In pregnant mice, quercetin showed increased iron stores in the liver of offspring. It is also known to cross the placenta and accumulate in the baby, so more safety studies are needed before I would consider it safe for pregnancy.
So what is safe for those unrelenting allergies??
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a drop or tablet daily treatment. The allergen such as ragweed, dust mite, or animal dander is diluted to a small dose and put in liquid or tablet form. This can desensitize an overactive immune system, and has the potential to cure some chronic allergies. This is a great choice for small children, or those who are afraid of the common allergy shots.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, SLIT is safe if it is a maintenance dose during pregnancy, but contraindicated if it is initiated during pregnancy. All sublingual allergens are considered category B (safe) including timothy grass, ragweed pollen, and other grass pollens. If you’re thinking of conceiving, the time to start treating your allergies is now!
The dosage is 4 drops/day for a minimum of 3 months to see results. A build up phase is necessary followed by a maintenance phase, with some people needing only a few weeks of treatment per year to maintain an allergy free summer.
Types of allergies treated:
- Dust mites
- A variety of grasses
- Cat dander
- Multiple tree pollens
- Wasp/bee venom
Who should not take SLIT:
- Severe, uncontrolled asthma
- Chronic intestinal conditions such as Eosinophilic Esophagitis
- Taking blood pressure medications called Beta Blockers
- Any severe medical condition that puts you at risk towards an unstable situation (ie. cardiac conditions)
- Previous severe anaphylactic reactions to immunotherapy
Food allergens are not available in Canada in the form of SLIT at this time.
If you are interested in a safe, long lasting allergy treatment call and see if this is the right therapy for you! Book a free 15 minute meet-and-greet for further discussion.
1) Vanhees K, et al. Maternal quercetin intake during pregnancy results in an adapted iron homeostasis at adulthood. Toxicology. 2011 Dec 18;290(2-3):350-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2011.10.017.
2) JESSICA SERVEY, MD, JENNIFER CHANG, MD,Over-the-Counter Medications in PregnancyAm Fam Physician. 2014 Oct 15;90(8):548-555.
3) DENISE K.C. SUR, MD, and MONICA L. PLESA, MD. Treatment of Allergic RhinitisAm Fam Physician. 2015 Dec 1;92(11):985-992.
4) Quantum Allergy Canada. A Patient’s Guide to (SLIT) Sublingual Immunotherapy. Cited May 12 2018. Available from: http://quantumallergycanada.com/a-patients-guide-to-slit-sublingual-immunotherapy/